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Why NASA sent human sperm to space?

Previously several species, including frogs, salamanders, sea urchins, jellyfish, snails, medaka fish, nematode and other aquatic invertebrate animals, have successfully undergone breeding in space

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With talk of space tourism and even trips to Mars, NASA has launched human sperm to the International Space Station (ISS) to test what happens when it gets exposed to zero-gravity environment.

The mission, dubbed Micro-11, technically began on April 1, when NASA sent frozen human and bull sperm on board a Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS, the Inverse reported late on Thursday. The astronauts aboard the ISS will thaw and chemically activate the samples to prepare them for union with an egg. Using video recording they will track the sperm movements and send them back to Earth for further analysis.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
Previously also many species have been breeded in outerspace. Wikimedia Commons

“Based on previous experiments, it seems the lack of gravity facilitates sperm mobility,” Fathi Karouia, lead scientist for NASA’s space biology project, was quoted as saying to Inverse.

“This is in line with other investigations on different model organisms which have shown that microgravity conditions trigger faster cell regeneration. “This flight project is the first to apply proven analytical methods to assess the fertility of human and bovine sperm in spaceflight,” Karouia said.

The experiment could also offer new insights into the ways long-duration spaceflight will influence human reproduction. Though this is not the first time sperm has been sent into space for testing, it could offer new insights into the ways long-duration spaceflight will influence human reproduction.

Also Read: NASA sending first-ever mission to study Mars’ deep interior

“This research is looking at early fundamental microgravity science,” the report said. Previously several species, including frogs, salamanders, sea urchins, jellyfish, snails, medaka fish, nematode (roundworm, known as Caenorhabditis elegans), and other aquatic invertebrate animals, have successfully undergone breeding in space. Moroever, aquatic invertebrates like amphipods, gastropods (pond snails), ostracods and daphnia (water flea) produced their offspring or repeated their life-cycles under microgravity during four months in space, the report said. IANS

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NASA’s TESS Discovers New Worlds Only 5 Months After Its Launch

With four special cameras, TESS uses a detection method called transit photometry.

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TESS
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this conceptual illustration obtained by Reuters on March 28, 2018. NASA sent TESS into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. VOA

A planet-hunting orbital telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system discovered two distant planets this week five months after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, officials said on Thursday.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, made an early discovery of “super-Earth” and “hot Earth” planets in solar systems at least 49 light-years away, marking the satellite’s first discovery since its April launch.

TESS is on a two-year, $337 million mission to expand astronomers’ known catalog of so-called exoplanets, worlds circling distant stars.

TESS
TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager. VOA

While the two planets are too hot to support life, TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager expects many more such discoveries.

“We will have to wait and see what else TESS discovers,” Seager told Reuters. “We do know that planets are out there, littering the night sky, just waiting to be found.”

TESS is designed to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.

NASA expects to pinpoint thousands more previously unknown worlds, perhaps hundreds of them Earth-sized or “super Earth” sized — no larger than twice as big as our home planet.

Those are believed the most likely to feature rocky surfaces or oceans and are thus considered the best candidates for life to evolve. Scientists have said they hope TESS will ultimately help catalog at least 100 more rocky exoplanets for further study in what has become one of astronomy’s newest fields of exploration.

 

TESS
An artist’s concept provided by NASA shows the Keplar Spacecraft moving through space. VOA

 

MIT researchers on Wednesday announced the discovery of Pi Mensae c, a “super-earth” planet 60 light-years away orbiting its sun every 6.3 days. The discovery of LHS 3844 b, a “hot-earth” planet 49 light-years away that orbits its sun every 11 hours, was announced on Thursday.

Pi Mensae c could have a solid surface or be a waterworld as the composition of such planets is a mixed bag, Martin Spill, NASA’s program scientist for TESS, said in a phone interview.

The two newest planets, which still need to be reviewed by other researchers, offer the chance for follow-up study, officials said.

Also Read: Parker Solar Probe of NASA Sends Back Its First Images

“That, of course, is TESS’ entire purpose — to find those planets around those brightest nearby stars to do this really detailed characterization,” Spill said.

With four special cameras, TESS uses a detection method called transit photometry, which looks for periodic dips in the visible light of stars caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them. (VOA)