Kate Turner

Mice set to go where no cat has gone before – space

Approx Reading Time-10SpaceX are planning to launch 20 mice into space in the name of science. Best not tell them the moon isn’t actually made of cheese.

 


Remember that Bruce Willis movie Armageddon? Liv Tyler being spun around by Ben Affleck (pre-Batman), Billy Bob Thorton warbling some Southern rubbish as Bruce saves the day by blowing himself and the asteroid up. Aerosmith sings the rock anthem of the damn ’90s, and we all cry. Now imagine an all female mice squad in this exact situation. Would they lift to a Bruce Willisian level of heroism? Do they know what an “Aerosmith” is? What am I going on about?

Well, twenty lady mousetronauts are stepping into the cosmos on the April 8, 2016 (two earth sleeps) to help scientists better understand biological processes.

 

Let’s talk science!

It turns out that this isn’t the first rodent rostered moon mission, as they’ve been scurrying across the cosmos since the 1950s. In fact, at least 27 missions have been carried out with mice on board. Each mission was no longer than two weeks. (Does this mean there’s a Neil Armstrong rodent equivalent? – Ed)

On the International Space Station, they’re able to board the mice for 30 to 90 days, which is more than enough time to increase our knowledge of the effects of microgravity on different organ systems.

 

Why mice and not a more advanced animal, like a chimpanzee?

Mice are a model organism, just as fruit flies and yeast are.

Using these model organisms is a great way to perform more experiments, as these organisms have a short life span, a better spectrum can be gauged.

 

In space, no-one will give you cheese.

Out in orbit, the mice will be tested to see how bones and muscles respond to the microgravity environment. Gaining knowledge on how these systems work in a non-gravity atmosphere will help the researchers counteract the effects and help them develop treatments to fight diseases on earth.

Wow! Maybe mice, in fact, are our saviours!

Shame that all those brave mousesketeers won’t be returning home to the hole in the wall to rat-bae.

Fly proudly, you lot.

Don’t want to close my mice / Don’t want maul the cheese / ‘Cause I’d mice you baby, and I don’t want to miss a thiiinnnnggg.

 

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