Would a ‘Biker Mice from Mars’ reference be a reach here?
Astronauts have been pondering over a specific physical conundrum over the last few years. Namely, men and women who spend extended periods up in space seem to experience noticeable losses in muscle mass and bone density. Whether it’s a gravitational thing or a vacuum thing or something entirely different, they haven’t yet nailed it down. To aid in this research, SpaceX sent the International Space Station a little present on Thursday: mice.
These mice aren’t just any old lab rodents, though. These mice, on loan from the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, have been genetically enhanced to have more muscle mass and tougher bones. Yep, scientists went and made mighty mice right under our noses. Hopefully, these super-squeakers can give us some insight into where astronaut muscles and bones keep disappearing to.
The mice were sent up to the ISS in a SpaceX Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They were originally going to do this on Wednesday, but some choppy weather delayed the launch. In addition to the mice, several other new experiments were included. These include things like gravity tests, the behavior of fire in space, heart disease treatments, and the germination and malting of barley seeds. That’s right, they’re making beer in space. The ISS staff will probably enjoy that one.