A mouse embryo underwent complete development on a Chinese satellite in outer space.
Were humans to leave the planet for some other place in outer space, they would have to be able to survive and thrive in a state of zero gravity and limited space.
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The latest evidence that comes from Chinese research shows that mouse embryos can undergo complete development in outer space. A micro-gravity satellite was launched by China on April 6th.
Many experiments took place on board this spacecraft. Some of the conclusions reached by the experiments are being sent back to earth.
Over 6000 mouse embryos were loaded on board. They were confined to a space that was the size of a microwave oven. Inside this limited space were all sorts of means of delivering nutrients to the embryos. They also had their images taken via sensors on a four hourly basis.
Over an 80 hour period in space the two-cell embryos evolved into full-fledged blastocysts. This is the first time that mammalian embryos have developed in a full manner in outer space. While humankind may not yet be ready to conquer outer space for colonization purposes, it is its ultimate goal since space is the final frontier.
"The human race may still have a long way to go before we can colonize the space. But before that, we have to figure out whether it is possible for us to survive and reproduce in the outer space environment like we do on Earth," said Duan Enkui, Professor of the Institute of Zoology affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and principle researcher of the experiment.
"Now, we finally proved that the most crucial step in our reproduction – the early embryo development – is possible in the outer space," Enkui told ChinaDaily.
The real thing to be cognizant of is whether human beings will be able to make do and reproduce in outer space. Now we know that such is a possibility indeed.
Although it is a huge leap of faith to extrapolate from mouse embryo experiments to human embryo experiments, such is the nature of science that it builds on animal studies in its preliminary stages.
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A small module of the space probe will contain the mouse embryos and they will be coming back to earth. These embryos will undergo analysis once they reach our home planet.