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WATCH: bizarre moment mice in space struggle with space station microgravity

Monday 22/April/2019 - 08:54 AM
NASA logo
NASA logo

Every single day, six trained astronauts onboard the ISS complete between 15 to 16 orbits of the Earth. As the astronauts barrel through space at breakneck speeds of around 17,150mph (27,600kmh), they conduct hundreds of experiments for the advancement of space exploration, technology and medicine. But what most people might not realise, is the astronauts are not alone in space and are joined by a furry family of critters, daily express reported.

NASA scientists have for the first time ever published an unusual video of mice zooming around in the ISS’ microgravity conditions.

The NASA video was published in the journal Scientific Reports alongside a detailed study on the behaviour of mice in space.

The unusual experiment found the space-borne mice became significantly more active while in orbit.

In the video, a pair of mice are seen racing around their cage in circles as if completing race circuit laps.

As the mice rapidly zoom around their special habitat, others are seen carelessly floating around.

The NASA mice began to engage in the peculiar behaviour between seven to 10 days after moving into the ISS.

This was compared to another test group of mice back on Earth.

Overall, the NASA mice exhibited all sorts of normal behaviour such as grooming, feeding and huddling with other mice – all with the exception of the cage laps.

The study reads: “Following four-day transit from Earth to ISS, video images were acquired on orbit from 16- and 32-week-old female mice.

“Space-flown mice engaged in a full range of species-typical behaviours.

“Physical activity was greater in younger flight mice as compared to identically-housed ground controls, and followed the circadian cycle.

“Within seven to 10 days after launch, younger (but not older), mice began to exhibit distinctive circling or ‘race-tracking’ behaviour that evolved into coordinated group activity.”

The goal of the study was to test how living organisms react to space travel and low gravity environments.

NASA said in a statement mice biology is in many ways comparable to that of humans, making them the perfect test subject.

But scientists are yet to figure out why the mice choose to run around in circles as enthusiastically as they do in the video.

One possible explanation is stress or that the mice find the activity rewarding on some level.

April Ronca, a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said: “Behaviour is a remarkable representation of the biology of the whole organism.

“It informs us about overall health and brain function.”

Edited by: Yara Sameh

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