The crew of the International Space Station will soon start not only interesting, but also very important from the point of view of the prospects of space colonization experiment. Truck Dragon private aerospace company SpaceX delivered to the ISS frozen stock of human cells. The task of the experiment is to check how they behave in space.
"Past experiments on semen of bulls and sea urchins have shown that the sex cells begin to move earlier in weightlessness than on Earth, but they do not merge or merge much better ovules. This all can give rise to problems with the conception of children in space, "quotes NASA spokesman Portal Space.com.
To date, one of the main dangers facing our transformation into an" interplanetary species "is associated with a high level of cosmic radiation . Specialists point out that this radiation is the greatest threat for sex cells forced to pass through several phases of division before they become ready for fertilization.
Nevertheless, earlier experiments on the reproduction of insects, fish, sea urchins and other animals, which were conducted aboard the ISS, showed that nothing in principle prevents the genus from continuing in weightlessness, but no experiments were performed on the primates' sex cells. In addition, experiments to assess the viability of offspring were not carried out in principle because of the technical impossibility of breeding hundreds of mice or other animals aboard the station at the same time.
The first experiments on human sex cells will begin on board the ISS in the coming days and weeks. The crew of the station will unfreeze sperm samples that have recently been taken into orbit, and send the spermatozoa to "free swimming."
At first, these cells are planned to be treated with two sets of signal molecules that mimic the chemical environment of the uterus. One of them will cause spermatozoa to move independently, and the second will trigger a chain of reactions preceding their fusion with the egg. The station's crew will receive dozens of photographs of the cells and then freeze them and send them back to Earth for further study.
These experiments, as biologists hope, will help to understand whether there are differences in the behavior of human and animal gametes during life in space, and will indicate how possible "natural" conception in weightlessness.