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Thousands of worms that hitched a ride to Earth on the shuttle Atlantis have arrived safely at a B.C. university, where they could shed light on how space radiation affects humans.
The worms landed with the shuttle Friday afternoon at Edwards Air Force Base in California, six months after their ancestors — now long dead — were sent to the International Space Station.
"The worms are at the lab and appear to be fine," molecular biologist Bob Johnsen told CBC News on Monday.
The worms were sent to the space station to multiply rapidly, a special skill of the C. elegans worm, so Johnsen and his research team at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby could examine their descendants' genes for mutations.
"We are looking for damage to DNA caused by space radiation," Johnsen told CBC News.
Originally posted by russ1969 that must have been a stowaway from another mission"
November 26, 2000 -- Long before the first humans boarded the International Space Station (ISS), something else was living there.
Something unseen, but potentially dangerous. Something with an uncanny ability to survive and reproduce in even the most hostile environments. Something capable of attacking the Station's crew and even the Space Station itself.
Of course we're not talking about some man-eating alien from a science fiction movie. These lurking, mischievous life forms aboard the Space Station are simply microbes: viruses, bacteria and fungi.
"Microbes were the first inhabitants of the Space Station," said Monsi Roman, chief microbiologist for the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
The Space Station's microorganisms are hitchhikers; they were carried there on ISS hardware and by the assembly crews themselves. "When the Station went up, microbes went with it," says Roman. "Microbes will be the last ones in the Station, too."
Picture this: You're one of several astronauts homeward bound after a three-year mission to Mars. Halfway back from the Red Planet, your spacecraft starts suffering intermittent electrical outages. So you remove a little-used service panel to check some wiring.
To your unbelieving eyes, floating in midair in the microgravity near the wiring is a shivering, shimmering globule of dirty water larger than a grapefruit. And on the wiring connectors are unmistakable flecks of mold.
That actually happened on the Russian space station Mir. When Mir was launched in 1986, "it was as clean as the International Space Station when it was launched," recounted C. Mark Ott, health scientist at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. And the cosmonauts aboard Mir (just like the astronauts from the U.S. and other nations aboard ISS) followed a regular schedule of cleaning all the space station's surfaces to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds that could jeopardize human health.
Yet, wherever humans venture, microorganisms follow—and make themselves right to home, thank you, if conditions are right.
A contingent of 90 snails is also making the trip to the space station as part of an experiment to study the effects of weightlessness on living organisms, Interfax reported. (Itar-Tass reported that this was the seventh and last batch of snails being sent to the station as part of a three-year experiment. The snails are to live aboard the station for five months and will then be returned to Earth for study.
BEIJING -- China's Shenzhou 2 spacecraft carried a monkey, a dog, a rabbit and snails into space earlier this month as Beijing prepared for a manned flight in the next five years, an industry source said on Thursday.
The flying menagerie returned to Earth alive on Tuesday from the seven-day mission after making 108 orbits as the unsung heroes of China's space program, the source said.
State media have said only that "various life forms" including animals, plants, aquatic creatures, microbes and cells made the journey, but gave no details.
Originally posted by prionace glauca So the microbes are going to be around where ever humans are.