The crew of the International space station will soon begin not only quite interesting but also very important from the perspective of space colonization experiment. Truck Dragon private aerospace company, SpaceX has delivered to the ISS frozen stocks of germ cells of man. The objective of the experiment – check how they behave in space.
“Past experiences on the sperm of bulls and sea urchins showed that the sex cells begin to move earlier in microgravity than on Earth, but they are worse or almost not merge with the eggs. All this can cause problems with conceiving children in space”, — quotes words of the representative of the NASA portal Space.com.
At the moment one of the main dangers that stand in the way of our becoming a “planet view”, is associated with high levels of cosmic radiation. Experts say that the biggest threat is the radiation, while germ cells are forced to pass through several phases of divisions before they become ready for fertilization.
However, earlier experiments on the reproduction of insects, fishes, sea urchins and other animals, conducted onboard the ISS, showed that nothing in principle prevents procreation in weightlessness, however, the germ cells of primates such experiments have not been conducted. In addition, experiments to assess the viability of the offspring was not carried out in principle because of the technical impossibility to breed hundreds of mice or other animals on Board the station at the same time.
The first experiments on human germ cells will begin aboard the ISS in the coming days and weeks. The station crew thawed sperm samples, derived recently in orbit, and send the sperm to “swim freely”.
First you’re going to treat these cells with two sets of signaling molecules that mimic the chemical environment of the uterus. One of them will cause the sperm to move independently, and the second will start the chain of reactions leading to their fusion with the egg. The station crew will get a few dozen photos 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 germ cells during life in space, and show how it is possible “natural” conception in zero gravity.