Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Insects in space

Two days ago I wondered what Drosophila would look like flying in space. A dedicated reader suggested looking for analogous situations, recommending "Pigs in Space". While the pigs were a good first approximation, I have since found that a bunch of insects have flown in (or near) space. Here's a few neat pages I found:
  • The STARS Program - Site featuring some school-designed experiments sending animals into space. Highlights include spiders, silkworms, fish, carpenter bees, and harvester ants. Many of the pages include pictures and videos of the critters in space! As a sad note, this payload was on STS-107, the Columbia flight that was lost in February 2003.

  • STARS ants article - A National Geographic article on the harvester ants mentioned above. Note that the article was written while the Columbia was still in orbit.

  • Butterfly pupation experiment - A brief summary of an experiment that sent caterpillars into space to see if they could pupate (apparently they can). I'd like to see some of the pictures from this mission.

  • Drosophila microgravity experiment - Another school experiment that sent Drosophila into microgravity using both rockets and KC-135 flights. I was really excited that I might have finally found my pictures of Drosophila in low g, but while they monitored the movement of the flies, their only pictures are of the experimental apparatus and humans.

  • Nematodes in microgravity - A summary of recent nematode research that sent some worms 20 miles up on a balloon. No pictures though :(

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