Sep 16, 2007

Russia Sends Gerbils into Space

The Russian Space Agency has sent ten Gerbils into space for a 12-day mission to test the possible effects on humans of a flight to Mars. The furry rodents lifted off from the Russian-run Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan on Friday in a Soyuz rocket. Gerbils are probably more suited than most rodents for space flight because they conserve body fluids by producing a minimum of waste.

The 10 are all sand rodents, praised as "a very interesting object for research" because they "can live for more than a month without using liquids," said Anatoly Grogoryev of the Russian Academy of Science. "This will enable scientists to determine salt exchange mechanisms in zero gravity conditions."

These small mammals, similar to mice and rats, are being kept in special cages with a supply of nuts and cereals. All activities will be monitored and Day and night will be simulated inside. Some special machines will clean their excrement in the weightless conditions. Some of these Gerbils are to be dissected upon their return. Link


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