Scientists sent different animals in space over the years. The first living creature to orbit Earth was Laika, a dog that was sent in 1957 to travel space inside the Sputnik 2 capsule.
At that time, no one knew whether humans would survive in space. The scientists were concerned that the low gravity will make it impossible for living creatures to digest food. Now, scientists want to prepare for longer stays in space.
Scientific Space Trips for Animals
Unfortunately, Laika died during her flight in space. However, the researchers managed to make several conclusions referring to what happens to the human body once it gets in space.
Aside from Laika, there was another creature that went off to the stars in 1961 – Ham the chimp. However, he returned safely to Earth. In only three months, Alan Shepard from NASA became the first American to enter space.
The first attempt to send something alive in space was made in 1947 when the scientists sent fruit flies out in the sky and welcomed them safely back. By 1951, NASA already sent six rhesus monkeys in space. Out of them, only one survived. The rest died shortly because of the stress and the heat inside the capsule. Overall, researchers sent out in space a rabbit, monkeys, dogs, rats, and mice.
After the first human had arrived on the Moon, the experiments with sending animals in space decreased in number. In the 60s, the US and the Soviet Union researchers sent frog eggs, spiders, jellyfish and all sorts of life forms.
“We’re always going to be looking for the simplest organism we can fly that answers a scientific question. We have an ethical obligation, and we have policy and regulation that require us to do that. We can’t inappropriately use a vertebrate organism for research,” said Brad Carpenter, chief scientist at NASA space laboratory.
In 1973, the researchers sent two cross spiders to Skylab. After a while, the spiders managed to create webs with an identical form as the ones on Earth, even in zero gravity. In 1988, the frog eggs managed to hatch in space.
However, other experiments showed that not all animals develop identical in space. For example, crickets lose the organs that help them keep the balance. When it comes to humans, a trip in space can make astronauts also have a loss of balance.
Each of the animals sent in space had important features that allowed scientists to perform their observations. For example, snails have enormous neurons, and crickets have a short development stage.
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