Tiny squids will make a trip on June 3rd to the ISS aboard SpaceX’s CRS-22 Dragon spacecraft. These squids are part of NASA’s UMAMI project, which looks at how spaceflight affects relationships between beneficial bacteria and their animal hosts.
For the study, the agency will use a bunch of tiny bobtail squids to better understand the symbiotic relationships. Newly hatched squid paralarvae, aka baby squids that have never been exposed to bacteria, will fly next week aboard the SpaceX 22nd cargo in the Techshot ADvanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) hardware. The ADSEP will house two Fluid Processing Cassettes (FPC). One will have the squids with the symbiotic microbes, while the other will only have the squids.
After they get on the ISS, the onset of the symbiosis will be monitored for 12 hours. Then, the squids will be frozen at -80°C (-112°F) and will head back to Earth. Once they arrive at the Kennedy Space Center, the genes from the preserved tissues (with or without the presence of their symbiotic bacteria) will be analyzed in order for scientists to identify how they have changed in space.
This study aims to see if spaceflight disrupts the symbiotic relationship, with the goal of developing safe precautions that will keep astronauts healthy on long-duration space missions.
In addition, NASA’s investigation could provide important insight into the complex interactions between animals and beneficial microbes. As a result, this understanding could help researchers find solutions to protect and aid the interactions in order to improve human health.
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