Space Sperm Produces Healthy Mice On Earth

Posted: May 23 2017, 4:17am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Space Sperm Produces Healthy Mice on Earth
Mouse pups, produced from the sperm stored on the International Space Station for 9 months, were all healthy, despite increased radiation levels in space. Photo Credit:: Teruhiko Wakayama, University of Yamanashi
  • Reproduction in Space Cannot be Ruled Out

It seems to be the case that reproduction in outer space is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. Already mouse sperm has been kept for a lengthy period of 9 months aboard the ISS. And now this sperm produces healthy baby mice on Earth.

It may be possible to reproduce in outer space. Freeze-dried rodent sperm on the space station produced healthy offspring. This could lead to human beings settling in space.

The radiation in space is a hundred times greater than that found on earth. This of course poses a serious issue since mutations may occur in embryos.

However, mouse sperm was kept on the ISS for a period of 288 days. Then it was brought back to the earth and transferred to female mice. This led to healthy offspring.

What this proves is that sperm preservation is possible in space. Both birth rate and ratio of males to females were the same as earth samples. While the sperm were slightly damaged from space radiation, the offspring were all normal.

According to The Guardian, human beings could thus pass on their progeny in outer space. It could be a self-perpetuating process. The effects of space radiation and zero gravity were not clear but what was clear was that reproduction was a possibility.

To take mammals into space was a difficult proposal. So the sperm of rodents was used as a test case to see whether reproduction was viable in outer space or not.

The sperm was preserved by desiccating it. Long stays on the ISS don’t seem to hurt the sperm motility or fertility. Still a lot more needs to be understood regarding reproduction in space.

According to The Verge, while there was a bit of damage to sperm kept in space, it did not affect the embryos that developed from that sperm later on in the environment of the planet earth.

There are several issues that stand in the way of reproduction in space. Besides radiation, the conditions of microgravity are there to contend with.

The problem seems to be that sex in space is a complicated affair. It has never been tried before. No pregnancy has taken place either. Cryopreservation of sperms and eggs is a possibility though.

The findings of this study are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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