On the Orbiting of Species
NASA animal research practices have come a long way since the days of Able and Baker.
- By Mark Betancourt
- Air & Space magazine, October 2011
(Page 2 of 2)
Only Gladys survived the return trip on Atlantis, after which the spider was discovered to be male, not female, and renamed Gladstone by his school chums. Some animals, like Gladstone, are cared for and observed after their return home. But for the most part, returning animal test subjects are immediately dissected so that researchers can study in detail how spaceflight has affected their bodies.
"The mice that came back, nothing was wasted," says the space station's Deputy Program Scientist Tara Ruttley of a similar months-long mouse study. "Every single component was used for gaining knowledge, gaining understanding of what happens on long-duration space flight." Their sacrifice will contribute to an understanding of how bone loss works and what can be done to prevent it. And in their brief lives as astro-mice, they experienced a journey few earthbound creatures ever will.