Bye bye, baby

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Endeavour* space shuttle is carrying a number of non-human organisms on its final trip into space, Wired Science reports.  Six of them are microorganisms.  One is a baby squid.

[I know that most people tend to be less concerned about the well-being of animals that happen not to be furry.  Still, it seems to me that sending a baby when you could have sent an adult is a potentially poor PR move.]

The rationale behind the “Cephalods in Space” launch is that a previous experiment in which Salmonella typhimurium bacteria were taken into space and then injected into mice showed that these space-exposed bacteria were more pathogenic than controls.  Now the question is, what happens to bacteria like Vibrio fischeri, which are symbiotic with the squid?  Do they become more pathogenic too?  (And what happens to the baby squid??)

* Yes, that’s how the name is spelt, because the shuttle’s named after a ship commanded by British explorer James Cook. On the maiden voyage of the Endeavour in 1768, Cook sailed into the South Pacific and around Tahiti to observe the passage of Venus between the Earth and the Sun. More at NASA, if you’re interested.

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