Published: 22nd June 2021
What The FAQ: From Lyka to baby squids, why we have been sending animals to space since 1947
We humans have been sending all sorts of animals to space since the 1940s. The latest being baby squids that glow in the dark
NASA just sent not one but 128 glow-in-the-dark baby squids and around 5,000 water bears to the International Space Station for research purposes. Well, we humans have been sending all sorts of animals to space since the 1940s — to be precise, February 20, 1947, when we sent fruit flies to space. We have sent monkeys, apes, dogs, cats, tortoises, mice, rats, rabbits, birds, and frogs to space as well. As we are studying baby squids in space, here are some facts about animals in space that you probably did not know.
Why is NASA studying baby squids?
Researcher Jamie Foster, who completed her doctorate at the University of Hawaii, is studying how spaceflight affects the squid in hopes of bolstering human health during long space missions, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday. The squid has a symbiotic relationship with natural bacteria that help regulate their bioluminescence. The baby Hawaiian bobtail squids were raised at the University of Hawaii's Kewalo Marine Laboratory and were blasted into space earlier this month on a SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station. When astronauts are in low gravity their body's relationship with microbes change, said University of Hawaii professor Margaret McFall-Ngai, who Foster studied under in the 1990s.
When will the squids be back?
The squids will come back to Earth in July.
Why were fruit flies the first astronauts?
USA's V-2 rocket which took off from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico on February 20, 1947, had a few fruit flies aboard to find the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes. The rocket went as high as 109 km in 3 minutes 10 seconds, crossing the international definitions of the boundary of space — 100 km. The fruit flies came back alive.
Why did Lyka, the first dog to be put in an orbiting ship, die?
Lyka was never meant to come back. The Sputnik 2 which took Lyka to space was never designed to come back. The stray from Moscow was sent to die in space and people across the globe flagged the incident as a horrid case of unethical treatment of animals for science. "Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it ... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog," said Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists who sent Lyka to space.