Elon Musks's SpaceX has launched hundreds of glow-in-the-dark baby squids and tardigrades, known as tiny water bears, to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the cargo resupply mission that will support experiments of NASA.
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft launched in one of Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday at 1:29 PM ET from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and was carrying 7,300 pounds of cargo and scientific experiments.
The rocket launch has no humans aboard the Dragon cargo capsule. This also marks the 22nd commercial resupply mission to space of SpaceX.
NASA's UMAMI Experiment
NASA's UMAMI experiment, short for "Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions," examines the effects of spaceflight on molecular and chemical interactions between the immature bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) and its microbes.
"Animals, including humans, rely on our microbes to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system," UMAMI principal investigator Jamie Foster said, according to ABC News. "We do not fully understand how spaceflight alters these beneficial interactions."
Foster added that using the glow-in-the-dark baby squids will address these important issues in animal health. Science Times previously reported that the baby squids are bacteria-free and will be injected with Vibrio fischeri bacteria, which have a symbiotic interaction with an adult squid when it is already aboard the ISS.
The UMAMI experiment could help support the development of proactive measures for astronauts' health during a long-duration space mission. NASA added that it would also lead to a better understanding of the complex interactions between animals and good bacteria.
"Such knowledge could help identify ways to protect and enhance these relationships for better human health and well-being on Earth as well," NASA said, ABC News reported.
Aboard the SpaceX mission is also the tiny water bears, commonly known as tardigrades, which can tolerate extreme environments that make them ideal for biological survival in space. Like the baby squid experiment, scientists also aim to see how a different environment could affect tardigrade gene expression.
Other Supplies and Experiments Aboard SpaceX Cargo Resupply Mission
According to CBS News, part of SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the ISS is an on-the-spot Butterfly IQ Ultrasound. It could provide critical medical capabilities for future space missions.
Furthermore, new solar panels will also be sent to the space station soon to increase the energy available for the research and operations of the ISS.
More experiments are expected to be conducted in the space station, including testing the effectiveness of the remote operation of robotic arms and space vehicles through virtual reality.
Also, to conduct tests on finding better ways to protect astronauts from kidney stones while on spaceflight. They also aim to know how to produce tougher cotton to reduce water and pesticide use. These are just some of the experiments expected to be conducted in the space station out of hundreds of others currently aboard the ISS.
Check out more news and information on Space on Science Times.