(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese scientists plan to try to breed monkeys on their space station. The experiment will be conducted at Wentian, the largest module on the space station.
The monkeys will be sent to China’s new Tiangong space station to be mated and possibly bred in outer space. We can learn a lot from this potentially controversial experiment with implications for the future of space exploration.
Can mammals, including humans, successfully reproduce outside of Earth?
In a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Zhang Lu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who builds scientific research support equipment on China’s Tiangong space station, said the experiment will take place in Wentian.
It is the largest module on the space station and is dedicated to life science experiments.
Failure rate for mammals
Continuing to study smaller creatures, “studies will be conducted on mice and macaques to see if they grow or reproduce in space,” Zhang said in his speech.
“Experiments like this will improve our understanding of how organisms adapt to microgravity and other space environments.”
Japanese rice fish and some simpler organisms reproduce in space. More complex life forms, however, ran into difficulties.
Mice in space
In 1979, scientists from the Soviet Union made mice mate in space, but none of them gave birth after landing. This means that breeding monkeys on the space station will be difficult.
To begin with, interaction with living beings in space is fraught with enormous difficulties. Kehkoy Kee, a professor at Tsinghua University School of Medicine, says astronauts “will have to feed them and deal with waste.”
On earth, panicking monkeys can be calmed down with toys, music, or simply talking to other monkeys. Astronauts will face a new task – to provide monkeys with joy and comfort in space.
However, the physics of sex in space is predicted to be challenging even if astronauts manage to create the right environment and mood for the monkeys.
According to Adam Watkins, an assistant professor of reproductive physiology at the University of Nottingham, it is difficult to be in close contact with each other in zero gravity.
As a result of the low blood pressure that astronauts experience while in space, it is more difficult to maintain an erection and arousal than on Earth.
“China’s new space station is almost fully operational. This means it is not afraid to tackle some serious problems, but will these experiments successful is unknown.
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