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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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NASA Seeks Partnership With US Industry to Develop First Gateway Element
NASA seeks US partners to develop reusable systems for Moon mission, Pixabay

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 Probe Makes New Discoveries on Asteroid Bennu

As a result, Bennu's rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained

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Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

NASA’s first asteroid-sampling mission OSIRIS-REx has observed particle plumes erupting from the surface of Bennu, an asteroid the size of the pyramid at Giza.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, which began orbiting Bennu on December 31, first discovered the particle plumes on January 6, followed by additional particle plumes over the last two months.

While some of the particles were slow-moving, the others were found orbiting Bennu, like small satellites.

Bennu’s entire surface was also found to be rough and dense with boulders, contrary to the Earth-based observations, which showed a smooth surface with a few large boulders.

This means that the sample collection part of the mission will have to be adjusted to make sure that OSIRIS-REx can touch down and collect a sample, said NASA while presenting the discoveries at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Conference in Houston.

“The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

NASA
This artist’s rendering made available by NASA in July 2016 shows the mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. VOA

“And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions. Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there is just getting started,” Lauretta added.

Further, the team observed a change in the spin rate of Bennu as a result of what is known as the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect.

The uneven heating and cooling of Bennu as it rotates in sunlight is causing the asteroid to increase its rotation speed.

Also Read- Huawei to Launch Foldable 5G Smartphone ‘Mate X’ in India

As a result, Bennu’s rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained.

OSIRIS-REx launched in 2016 to explore Bennu, the smallest body ever orbited by spacecraft, is expected to return a sample of the asteroid to Earth in 2023.

The findings will allow researchers to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the sources of water and organic molecules on Earth, the resources in near-Earth space, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. (IANS)