Can Triops survive in the cosmos? - Triops Galaxy

Triops in the cosmos: Can Triops survive in space?

We know from breeding Triops that the eggs of these prehistoric crustaceans are extraordinarily resilient. They can withstand extreme weather conditions and survive for many decades – up to 80 years. It is impressive how much these tiny Triops eggs can withstand. But what about a space flight and a stay in the cosmos? Can the eggs survive such a flight unscathed? Are extreme temperatures and solar radiation a danger to them? And can nauplii still hatch from the eggs after a vacuum environment? Scientists have carried out just such an experiment and achieved remarkable results. In this blog post, I explore the question of whether Triops can survive in the cosmos.

Triops in the cosmos: Animals in space

Since the early days of space travel, animals have played an important role in space exploration. They were sent into space to study the effects of weightlessness and cosmic radiation on living organisms. These experiments were crucial in laying the foundations for manned spaceflight and ensuring the safety of astronauts. Below, we take a look at some of the most notable animal space travellers and their contributions to science.

The first creatures to be sent into space were fruit flies. In 1947, NASA sent a group of fruit flies into space on board a V-2 rocket to study the effects of cosmic radiation. This mission marked the beginning of biological space research.

Monkeys and dogs followed in the 1950s. The USA sent several monkeys, including Albert II, who was the first mammal to reach space in 1949. Unfortunately, he did not survive the flight. Later, rhesus monkeys such as Able and Baker were successfully sent into space and back to earth. These missions provided important data on the physiological effects of space travel.

While the USA focussed on monkeys, the Soviets opted for dogs. The most famous of these dogs was Laika, who was the first living creature to reach Earth orbit aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. Unfortunately, Laika’s mission was a one-way trip and she died a few hours after take-off. Nevertheless, her flight was a milestone in the history of space travel.

After Laika, the Soviet Union sent more dogs into space, including Belka and Strelka, who orbited the Earth on board Sputnik 5 in 1960 and returned safely. This mission proved that living organisms can survive longer space flights.

In addition to monkeys and dogs, numerous other animals have been sent into space over the years. Mice and rats are frequent participants in such experiments, as they are well-researched model organisms. They help scientists to understand the effects of weightlessness on bones, muscles and the nervous system.

Fish and jellyfish have also undertaken space flights. Fish have been used to study the effects of weightlessness on the vestibular system, while jellyfish have been used to study changes in reproductive behaviour under space conditions.

Insects, especially fruit flies, continue to be a favourite subject of study in space research. They have short life cycles and are genetically well studied, making them ideal for experiments investigating the long-term effects of spaceflight on cell and gene activity.

Small crustaceans such as Triops and water fleas have also been sent into the cosmos to study their resilience and adaptability under extreme conditions. Such experiments help scientists to understand how life can thrive in alien environments.

Preparations for the Triops’ space flight

Preparations for the Triops’ space flight began back in 2011, when Chemnitz geobiologist Dr Thorid Zierold set about preparing the Triops eggs for the ultimate stress test in the cosmos. Initial investigations took place at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), where the eggs were exposed to extreme conditions in a seven-day experiment: Temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees and intense solar radiation. In addition, tests were carried out in a vacuum and under a Mars-like atmosphere. Despite the assumption that the vacuum would destroy the eggs, only a few small cracks appeared and prehistoric crabs hatched from each sample.

Another crucial test was carried out on the International Space Station (ISS) in collaboration with Roskosmos and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The Triops eggs were attached to numerous clay discs on the outer shell of the ISS. These experiments differed from the terrestrial tests, as the eggs were exposed to much stronger UV and cosmic radiation in space. After numerous tests and intensive preparations, the Triops eggs are now ready for their space flight. It remains to be seen whether they will produce nauplii on their return to Earth.

Triops in the cosmos – Conclusion

The long-awaited moment had finally arrived: 3500 Triops eggs were sent into space from a deposit in Königswartha near Bautzen in Saxony. This project, ‘Biorisk’, was carried out by the German Aerospace Centre and the Biomedical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation. The aim of the experiment was to investigate the influence of space on the organisms and to simulate a flight to Mars.

Project leader Thorid Zierold attached great importance to finding out what we can learn from the prehistoric crustaceans. Unlike chicken eggs, Triops eggshells do not form crystals and therefore have fewer weak points. Their mirror-smooth shell makes them almost hermetically sealed from the outside world. Future research could show how the survival mechanism of Triops could support astronauts on space missions.

The Triops eggs spent 13 months on the outer shell of the International Space Station (ISS). During this time, they were exposed to extreme vacuum, ionising radiation and strong temperature fluctuations. On their return to Earth, nauplii hatched from the eggs, making the space flight a complete success.

Sladjan Lazic

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