Squids in space! Hawaiian cephalopods to help keep astronauts healthy

Dozens of baby squid have been sent into space so scientists can see how they are affected by their journey.

The 128 baby Hawaiian bobtail squid were sent into orbit earlier this month on a SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Scientists say that understanding how the squid cope with their journey into space could help solve health problems faced by astronauts.

Researcher Jamie Foster said: “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 recognise bacteria as easily. They sometimes get sick.”

She added: “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.”

University of Hawaii professor Margaret McFall-Ngai, who was one of Foster’s teachers in the 1990s, said: “We have found that the symbiosis of humans with their microbes is perturbed in microgravity, and Jamie has shown that is true in squid.

“And, because it’s a simple system, she can get to the bottom of what’s going wrong.”

The squid are bred at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, which breeds the species for research projects around the world.

The animals, plentiful in Hawaiian waters, grow to a length of just 7cm and live just two or three months in the wild.

They will be frozen for their return to Earth in July.

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