Sometimes things get weird for the sake of research.
This story is no exception.
NASA launched dozens of baby squid from a University of Hawaii research laboratory into space earlier this month as part of a SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station.
Lessons learned from how spaceflight affects the squid will hopefully be applied to bolstering human health during long space missions. The squid have an ecologically symbiotic relationship with naturally occurring bacteria that helps regulate their bioluminescence under water, and researchers are exploring how space flight impacts that symbiotic relationship.
According to the Associated Press, when astronauts are in low gravity the way their body interacts with microbes changes, and understanding what happens to the squid during space travel could help address health issues that astronauts face.
Lead researcher Jamie Foster, a professor at the University of Florida and principal investigator for NASA explained:
“As astronauts spend more and more time in space, their immune systems become what’s called dysregulated. It doesn’t function as well.
Their immune systems don’t recognize bacteria as easily. They sometimes get sick.
There are aspects of the immune system that just don’t work properly under long-duration spaceflights. If humans want to spend time on the moon or Mars, we have to solve health problems to get them there safely.”
The squid are scheduled to be sent back down to earth in July.
Over the years, NASA has sent other animals to space for research purposes, including dogs, cats, mice, and monkeys.