Scientists have been finding ways for humans to survive in space. There have are studies underway to understand the impact of space atmosphere on the human body. Now new research can prove to be path-breaking development. Scientists have claimed that mouse sperm, which was exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation for more than five years, has produced healthy young. Healthy mice, which are being referred to as ‘space pups’ are born from the sperm that was kept in the freeze-dried form in the International Space Station for five years and ten months. It returned to earth for testing after which it was rehydrated. The sperm produced 168 young which are healthy and free of genetic defects. Researchers said they have found no signs of rodent Hulks or Mousezillas. The study has been published in Science Advances. According to lead author and Developmental biologist Teruhiko Wakayama, there was hardly any difference between mice fertilized by space sperm and those were on the earth.
“All space pups are absolutely normal in appearance. We examined these pubs found that there were no abnormalities,” Wakayama said. Three boxes with each having 48 ampoules of the freeze-dried sperms were sent to the ISS in 2013 by Wakayama and his colleagues at the University of Yamanashi in Japan. The aim was to study the long-term impact of space on the sperm. Researchers wanted to find out how sperm will react to radiation present in space. Radiation present in the space is potentially harmful to fertility. On earth, there is no such problem as the earth’s magnetosphere protects humans from radiation. But as one travels farther from Earth, the radiation increases the sperm experiment was to understand the radiation hazard in particular.
Scientists wanted to know whether exposing sperm to such radiation will damage the DNA in reproductive cells or pass mutations in the babies that are produced from it. These sperm were brought back to earth after the first nine months, then after 24 months, and finally after 70 months. Hundreds of mice have been produced using sperm. Researchers said that they preferred freeze-dried sperm as it does not require a freezer to be preserved. As the ampoules of the mouse were very small in size, almost like a pencil, this further reduced the cost of the launch. Moreover, the space mice were randomly mated once they reached adulthood. The researchers found the next generation too appeared normal. Wakayama said that tolerance of freeze-dried sperm is much better than normal sperms as there is no water in its cell nuclei and cytoplasm in the former. They said that freeze-dried sperm could be stored for around 200 years in space.