First mammalian embryos grown in space

Signal of change / First mammalian embryos grown in space

By Alisha Bhagat / 17 May 2016

Last month Chinese scientists reported that they were successfully able to grow mouse embryos in space. Thousands of embryos were sent into orbit on a Chinese satellite. Photos taken 80 hours later revealed that the embryos had developed at a natural pace into blastocysts, and could be implanted in a womb.

So what?

This is the first time mammalian embryos have successfully developed in space and suggests that this process could be viable for other mammals, including humans. A crucial stage of reproduction is early embryo development and this experiment shows that it is possible for embryos to flourish and grow even under the very different conditions encountered in space.

This research sheds light on the larger issue of whether or not humans can reproduce and survive for multiple generations in space. It is also related to the question of whether space travel will impact human fertility and child development.

Organizations such as Mars One hope to send people to live on Mars as soon as 2022. To do so, the issues of human survival, health, and reproduction in space will need to be addressed. This is necessary to make life in space viable and may offer clues to improving human survival here on Earth.

What implications will successful mammalian reproduction in space have on space exploration and travel?

Image credit: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler

Sources

The Telegraph (April 19th, 2016) Mouse Embryos Grown in Space Breakthrough for Human Colonies

Motherboard (April 19th, 2016) Space Grown Mouse Embryos are a Step Toward Human Colonization

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

Meanwhile in the lead up to the formation of embryos, "How sex would work in SPACE: Experts reveal the challenges of becoming intimate in microgravity" The main problem having sex would be the lack of gravity, making it difficult for two people to stay in close proximity. Blood circulation is also affected, go figure. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3819577/How-sex-work-SPACE-Experts-reveal-challenges-intimate-microgravity.html
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Scientists successfully put mouse embryos in suspended animation for a month, bringing us one step closer to long distance space travel? https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/23/mouse-embryos-suspended-animation/
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