SPACEX is about to rocket 128 glow-in-the-dark baby squid into space for Nasa.
Elon Musk’s rocket firm is also sending 5,000 ‘water bear’ creatures on a journey to the International Space Station where they’ll be studied by astronauts.
The animals will be sent on their mission next week on June 3.
They’ll be blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:29pm EDT (18:29 BST).
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the tiny critters as it heads up to the ISS for its 22nd cargo resupply mission.
The squid and water bears, also called tardigrades, are part of two separate scientific studies.
Baby bobtail squid have been chosen because of their symbiotic relationship with bacteria in their bodies which helps them glow.
The 0.12-inch-long creatures could help us understand how beneficial bacteria interact with animal tissue in a space environment.
Jamie Foster, a microbiologist at the University of Florida and principal investigator of the Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions experiment, said: “Animals, including humans, rely on our microbes to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system.
“We do not fully understand how spaceflight alters these beneficial interactions.”
The squid will be in a frozen state when they get to space and then thawed out.
Baby bobtail squid don’t contain the symbiotic bacteria because they usually acquire it from the ocean around them.
Researchers plan to add the bacteria to the squid when they arrive at the ISS and see how the two interact.
They’ll then study the molecules produced and the genes that the squid turn on and off in order to make the most out of the bacteria.
This could help us understand human gut health in space and the relationship between space travel, bacteria and the immune system.
The water bear experiment will focus on how the tiny 0.04-inch creatures survive in the high stress environment of space.
They’re already known for surviving stressful situations on Earth.
Thomas Boothby, assistant professor of molecular biology at the University of Wyoming and principal investigator for the experiment, said: “Some of the things that tardigrades can survive include being dried out, being frozen and being heated up past the boiling point of water.
“They can survive thousands of times as much radiation as we can and they can go for days or weeks with little or no oxygen.
“They’ve been shown to survive and reproduce during spaceflight, and can even survive prolonged exposure to the vacuum of outer space.”
Boothby’s study will focus on how tardigrades adapt to life in low Earth orbit.
The creatures could help us learn how to protect astronaut health during long space missions.
What is the ISS?
Here’s what you need to know about the International Space Station…
- The International Space Station, often abbreviated to ISS, is a large space craft that orbits Earth and houses astronauts who go up there to complete scientific missions
- Many countries worked together to build it and they work together to use it
- It is made up of many pieces, which astronauts had to send up individually on rockets and put together from 1998 to 2000
- Ever since the year 2000, people have lived on the ISS
- Nasa uses the station to learn about living and working in space
- It is approximately 250 miles above Earth and orbits around the planet just like a satellite
- Living inside the ISS is said to be like living inside a big house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym, lots of science labs and a big bay window for viewing Earth
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In other space news, an electric Moon buggy that will take astronauts around the lunar south pole is being created by Lockheed Martin and General Motors.
Nasa’s Perseverance rover has created breathable oxygen.
And, the mystery surrounding what looks like giant spiders on the surface of Mars may finally have been solved.
Do you think the baby squid should be sent to space? Let us know in the comments…
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