NASA Sent Human Sperm to Space for the First Time, Here's Why
Representational Image (Photo credits: Unsplash.com)

Amidst all the research about discovering life on Mars, developing space tourism projects and many more ambitious projects, the NASA has sent a human sperm to the International Space Station. They want to understand what effect will happen on it once it is exposed to the zero-gravity environment. This mission is called the Micro- 11 and began on April 1, when NASA frozen human and bull sperm on board a Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS.

The astronauts on the ISS will thaw and chemically activate those samples for an union with egg. They will then study the sperm movements, record them on a video and send it back to Earth for analysis on the same. "Based on previous experiments, it seems the lack of gravity facilitates sperm mobility," Fathi Karouia, the lead scientist for NASA's space biology project, was quoted to Inverse. There have been different model organisms which were also investigated under microgravity conditions. It was found they trigger faster regenerations. "This flight project is the first to apply proven analytical methods to assess the fertility of human and bovine sperm in spaceflight," Karouia has said.

Although it is not the first time for a sperm to be sent into space, it can also offer new highlights into how much long-duration spaceflights will have an impact on human reproduction. The research will look more into fundamental microgravity science.

In the previous studies, several species including frogs, salamanders, sea urchins, jellyfish, snails and some other invertebrate animals have had successful breeding in space. Aquatic invertebrates like pond snails, daphnia (water flea), amphipods are some who have produced their offsprings under the microgravity environment. These repeated life cycles were observed in the span of four months in space. With previous studies facilitating the mobility of sperms in no gravity situation, it will be interesting to note how a human and bovine sperm develop in the same environment.