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Blobs travel to space

The International Space Station is preparing to receive a strange guest, a creature called the “Bloop”, who will travel to space tomorrow to be the center of an educational experiment run by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

Next fall, hundreds of thousands of students from primary school to high school will reproduce the experiment from Earth on this strange organism, which is neither an animal, nor a plant nor a fungus, under the auspices of the National Center for Space Research in cooperation with the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). ).

Visarum polycephalum consists of a single cell and several nuclei. It resembles a yellow fibrous mass, and it has no mouth, legs or brain, but it eats, grows, moves very slowly, and has great abilities to learn. This organism can also reproduce without limits and enter a state of hibernation without dying. In this particular case, known as “hardening,” several pieces of it will reach space, as part of a cargo load destined for the International Station.

And when Pesquet returns moisture to it next September, life will return to it at a distance of 400 kilometers from Earth. These four pieces, which are barely half a centimeter in size, will be placed in Petri-type boxes, where they will undergo two trials. In the first experiment, the behavior of the deprived pop will be analyzed.

The second experiment will provide the more fortunate creatures with a food source of oat flakes. The aim is to study the effects of zero gravity on these organisms.

“No one knows how these organisms will behave in microgravity and in what direction they will travel,” said Pierre Ferrand, a lecturer in Earth sciences collaborating with the National Center for Space Research, who is responsible for the project. Are you going uphill or diagonally?”

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“I’m very excited to see if they will grow with the formation of vertical layers,” said Audrey Dussautour, director of research for CNRS at the Center for Research on Animal Capacities in Toulouse that specializes in blueberries.

On Earth, thousands of samples of the plump from the same strain, “LU 352”, parts of which will be sent into space, will be distributed to 4,500 schools in France. And educational institutions rushed to meet the invitation to participate in this project.