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NASA Sends Butterflies, Caterpillars Into Space

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 29 comments

NASA is sending a butterfly habitat containing monarch and painted lady adults and larvae to the International Space Station.

The space-traveling insects are part of a project dubbed "Butterflies in Space." Once they arrive at the ISS, K-12 students across America will monitor the CU-Boulder butterfly experiment, studying the effects space travel has on the bugs at the ISS compared to examples reared in their own classrooms.

According to Science Daily, the butterfly payload was designed by BioServe Space Technologies in the University of Colorado at Boulder's aerospace engineering department. The habitat will contain monarch butterflies and painted lady butterfly larvae with enough nectar and other food to support them as they develop.

ScienceDaily cites BioServe Payload Mission Manager Stefanie Countryman as saying the painted lady butterfly larvae will be six days old and the monarch butterflies will be about 10 days old at launch. Transferred from Atlantis to the ISS about two days later, it will take the butterfly larvae about five days to pupate and form a cocoon, and another seven to 10 days to emerge.

Participating classrooms across the country have been provided with kits containing butterfly larvae. Students will monitor the growth rates, feeding, pupation and the emergence of the butterflies, comparing what they see in their own classroom to what they're seeing in the images from the ISS. Images of the ISS habitat will be taken every 15 minutes, downlinked daily and uploaded to the web for students to see.

Read the complete story here.

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  • 26 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , November 12, 2009 2:16 PM
    Great...now due to space radiation we are going to get back Mothra or something of the sort. Somebody wake up Godzilla.
  • 16 Hide
    r0x0r , November 12, 2009 2:13 PM
    The butterflies need to survive the launch first!
  • 16 Hide
    830hobbes , November 12, 2009 3:46 PM
    dark_lord69I get what they are doing but, WHY!?Is there a real purpose for this?Nice to know how the government is waisting our money...


    I think you mean "wasting." This is exactly why the government is spending this money: to encourage education. Maybe if cool learning experiences like this interest kids more in school and learning, we'll have fewer hopelessly ignorant people in the world.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    r0x0r , November 12, 2009 2:13 PM
    The butterflies need to survive the launch first!
  • 26 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , November 12, 2009 2:16 PM
    Great...now due to space radiation we are going to get back Mothra or something of the sort. Somebody wake up Godzilla.
  • 8 Hide
    JMcEntegart , November 12, 2009 2:22 PM
    bill gates is your daddyGreat...now due to space radiation we are going to get back Mothra or something of the sort. Somebody wake up Godzilla.


    or the stay puft marshmallow man.
  • -2 Hide
    sublifer , November 12, 2009 2:25 PM
    Wonder if the low gravity is going to make them bigger or maybe even explode?
  • 0 Hide
    skine , November 12, 2009 2:30 PM
    No potato chips allowed aboard, just in case.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnPGDWD_oLE
  • 13 Hide
    Niva , November 12, 2009 2:41 PM
    They don't do well in zero G. Many plants can't survive in space either though putting plants in a centrifuge helps. Can you imagine if you're a plant and you don't know which way your roots are supposed to grow due to the absence of gravity, that would suxor!
  • -6 Hide
    renz496 , November 12, 2009 2:43 PM
    did they send of the butterfly off to outer space in hope the butterfly will exposed with some radiation and then mutating into something else?
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 12, 2009 3:02 PM
    dark_lord69I get what they are doing but, WHY!?Is there a real purpose for this?Nice to know how the government is wasting our money...


    hey any federal employee will tell you that there are a lot better ways to waste money. just this past week our shop bought a part for a 30 year old radio for 3500 bucks when a brand new radio costs 1800 bucks. welcome to the world of WTF!!!!
  • 7 Hide
    igot1forya , November 12, 2009 3:07 PM
    "NASA Sends Butterflies, Caterpillars Into Space" ... "and they died"
  • -7 Hide
    redgarl , November 12, 2009 3:14 PM
    Well, I think these studies should be done... a little later... when space travel is more a common thing. You know, maybe when the actual space elevator is done...?

    Seriously, for now it such trivial data that the NASA is wasting money on this.
  • 1 Hide
    tester24 , November 12, 2009 3:28 PM
    I was thinking more of a deadspace type deal with the ISS. They mutate into body snatching killing machines.
  • 3 Hide
    tiotaitch , November 12, 2009 3:43 PM
    canary...coal mine ..?!!
  • 16 Hide
    830hobbes , November 12, 2009 3:46 PM
    dark_lord69I get what they are doing but, WHY!?Is there a real purpose for this?Nice to know how the government is waisting our money...


    I think you mean "wasting." This is exactly why the government is spending this money: to encourage education. Maybe if cool learning experiences like this interest kids more in school and learning, we'll have fewer hopelessly ignorant people in the world.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , November 12, 2009 3:52 PM
    Is a wonder PETA isnt all butt hurt about this.
  • 8 Hide
    city_zen , November 12, 2009 4:12 PM
    Quote:
    to pupate

    Now, that's a verb you don't come across too often ...
  • 0 Hide
    buwish , November 12, 2009 4:24 PM
    To heck with sending insects and such up to space, they can send me up and see how I react to 0G. Hint: A lot of puking. Now that's science.
  • -9 Hide
    Computer_Lots , November 12, 2009 4:52 PM
    This is just stupid. It's a feel-good propaganda thing for schools. Big giant waste of money.

    They should just give it up. We're never gonna live in space.
    Star Trek is a TV show. There are no Vulcans.
  • 5 Hide
    ChuvelxD , November 12, 2009 5:05 PM
    Computer_LotsThis is just stupid. It's a feel-good propaganda thing for schools. Big giant waste of money.They should just give it up. We're never gonna live in space.Star Trek is a TV show. There are no Vulcans.


    You sir, are a giant arse. They probably didn't send butterflies on their own shuttle, it was probably a side project on a already schedueled mission. That's how they do these things.

    Star Trek is NOT a TV show, its real. And the Vulcans, are going to mind-meld you and make you think you're a giant arse. Which you are.

    I SAID GOOD DAY SIR!
  • 6 Hide
    bogcotton , November 12, 2009 5:48 PM
    homrqtWhat happened to the old school sending monkeys and dogs into space??


    Too similar to us I guess, nothing to see but some disorientation and muscle deterioration.
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