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NASA Launches Dozens Of Baby Squid Into Space For Experiment

by : Julia Banim on : 22 Jun 2021 15:49
NASA Launches Dozens Of Baby Squid Into Space For ExperimentJamie S. Foster/NASA/PA Images

Earlier this month, NASA conducted an experiment that involved launching baby squid into space in an effort to improve human health on long missions.

128 baby Hawaiian bobtail squid, raised at the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory, began their journey into space earlier this month onboard a SpaceX resupply mission destined for the International Space Station.

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It’s hoped this journey will help scientists understand the effects of spaceflight on a person’s health, with squid and humans having surprisingly similar immune systems.

Baby Squid (Jamie S. Foster/University of Florida)Jamie S. Foster/University of Florida

Project researcher Jamie Foster hopes information gathered about how the squid are affected may help scientists improve the human body during lengthy space missions going forward.

Foster told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

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As astronauts spend more and more time in space, their immune systems become what’s called dysregulated. It doesn’t function as well. Their immune systems don’t recognize bacteria as easily. They sometimes get sick.

There are aspects of the immune system that just don’t work properly under long-duration spaceflights. If humans want to spend time on the moon or Mars, we have to solve health problems to get them there safely.

The squid are expected to make their return journey in July, and will reportedly be preserved over time to capture any changes in space environment with or without their symbiotic bacteria.

According to Foster, gaining an understanding of what happens to the squid microbiome in space will help scientists tackle some of the health issues faced by astronauts, including compromised immune systems and the possibility for microbes to become more pathogenic.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals, NASA, Space

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    Hawaiian squid head to space to help understand astronauts’ health, thanks to a UH Manoa Ph.D. graduate