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Human Sperm Retains Viability in Outer Space Conditions: Researchers

The study was presented at an annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, Austria

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Each sperm has 37.5MB of DNA information in it.
Each sperm has 37.5MB of DNA information in it.

Researchers have found that human sperm retains its complete viability within the different gravitational conditions found in outer space.

The results could be a huge boost to zillionaires like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who see the “colonisation” of space as an answer to the Earth’s ever threatened resources.

“If the number of space missions increases in the coming years, and are of longer duration, it is important to study the effects of long-term human exposure to space in order to face them,” said Montserrat Boada from Dexeus Women’s Health in Barcelona, whose group worked with microgravity engineers from the Polytechnic University of Barcelona.

“It’s not unreasonable to start thinking about the possibility of reproduction beyond the Earth,” Boada said.

The study was performed using a small aerobatic training aircraft (CAP10), which can provide short-duration hypogravity exposure.

The plane executed a series of 20 parabolic manoeuvres, providing eight seconds of microgravity for each parabola.

Overall, 10 sperm samples obtained from 10 healthy donors were analysed after exposure to the different microgravities found in space and ground gravity.

To overcome regulatory constraints and increase donor numbers, sperm banks in the UK and Australia began to market the act of donating sperm as a confirmation of masculinity. Pixabay

The sperm analysis comprised a full range of measurements currently performed for fertility testing — concentration, motility, vitality, morphology and DNA fragmentation — and results found no difference whatsoever in any of the parameters between the microgravity space samples and the control group samples from Earth.

Indeed, there was 100 per cent concordance in DNA fragmentation rate and vitality, and 90 per cent concordance in sperm concentration and motility, said Boada.

These minor differences, she added, “were more probably related to heterogeneity of the sperm sample than to the effect of exposure to different gravity conditions”.

Boada described this as a preliminary study and her group will now move on to validate the results and then to larger sperm samples, longer periods of microgravity and even fresh sperm.

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One reason for using frozen sperm in this study was the known effect of radiation on fresh sperm, Boada noted.

“Radiation impairs the quality and viability of human sperm, and these effects are expected to be greater on fresh sperm than on frozen samples,” she said.

The study was presented at an annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna, Austria. (IANS)

Next Story

Space Exploration Critical for our Survival, Says Jeff Bezos

He envisions fuelling rockets with lunar ice water and using the Moon as the base to explore space further

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

While Elon Musk-led SpaceX always stays in limelight, world’s richest person Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin is fast catching up because for him, “space exploration is critical to our survival”.

In an interview with CBS News along with John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline late on Wednesday, Bezos who founded Blue Origin almost 19 years back said he wants his company to be “an instrumental part” of return to the Moon by the US.

“We’re going to be, I hope, an instrumental part of it in cooperation with dozens of companies and governments,” Bezos was quoted as saying.

“To go back to the Moon and the time frame that the administration wants to do, we absolutely need the support of the government to do that,” Bezos said.

In May, Bezos unveiled Blue Origin’s vision for space and also plans for a Moon lander known as “Blue Moon”, set to be ready by 2024.

“I think it is important for this planet. I think it’s important for the dynamism of future generations. It is something I care deeply about,” said Bezos.

bezos, money, bill gates
Bezos whose worth nearly $119 billion is running out of money. VOA

The Moon lander “Blue Moon” was in development for three years.

“We must return to the Moon – this time to stay,” the Blue Origin CEO had said.

Bezos revealed that the larger variant of the lander would not only be able to get people on the Moon but also be able to carry the rover to shoot off small satellites and execute scientific missions.

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In the near future, Bezos envisions creating enormous space colonies in close proximity to Earth, as a way of expanding humanity to a trillion people.

He envisions fuelling rockets with lunar ice water and using the Moon as the base to explore space further.

“We can harvest that ice and use it to make hydrogen and oxygen, which are rocket propellants,” Bezos said recently. (IANS)