NASA has sent dozens of baby squid into space for study
The Associated Press indicated that these marine animals were bred at the University of Hawaii’s “Kiwalo” laboratory and were launched into space, earlier this June, on a supply mission to the International Space Station launched by SpaceX.
The newspaper, “Honolulu Star-Advertiser”, reported on Monday that the researcher Jimmy Foster, who completed her PhD at the University of Hawaii, is studying how spaceflight affects squid in hopes of promoting human health during long spaceflights.
The squid has a symbiotic relationship with the natural bacteria that helps to regulate its biological adaptation to the surrounding environment.
When astronauts are in low gravity, their bodies’ relationship to microbes changes, said University of Hawaii professor Margaret Macphall-Ngai, who supervised Foster’s education in the 1990s.
“We’ve found that the symbiosis of humans with their microbes is disturbed in microgravity, and Jimmy has shown that this is true in squid,” Macphale Ngai told The Associated Press. “Because his biological system is simple, she can figure out what’s causing the error,” she said.
Foster is now a professor in Florida and a principal investigator for a NASA program that investigates the effect of microgravity on interactions between animals and microbes.
Foster noted that while astronauts stay for long periods in low-gravity conditions, their immune system does not function well, adding that “their immune systems do not easily recognize bacteria. This sometimes contributes to disease.
Understanding what happens to squid in space can help solve health problems faced by astronauts, Foster said.
“There are aspects of the immune system that don’t work properly with long spaceflights,” she said. “If humans want to spend time on the Moon or Mars, we have to solve the health problems to get them there safely.”
It is expected that marine animals will return to Earth again, in July.
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