NASA sent dozens of baby squid to the International Space Station in early June as part of a study, according to The Associated Press.
The Hawaiian bobtail squid were provided by the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, the AP reported. Researcher Jamie Foster is conducting the study to observe how spaceflight impacts squid in order to find ways to improve human health during long space trips, according to the report.
— Jamie S Foster (@jfosterUF) June 4, 2021
“We have found that the symbiosis of humans with their microbes is perturbed in microgravity, and Jamie has shown that is true in squid,” University of Hawaii professor Margaret McFall-Ngai reportedly said. “And, because it’s a simple system, she can get to the bottom of what’s going wrong.”
Foster said researchers do not entirely understand how spaceflight changes human microbes that maintain the digestive and immune systems, according to NPR. Observing the behavior of squid in space could help solve health issues in astronauts, the AP reported. (RELATED: Astronaut Brains Change Shape During Spaceflight)
“As astronauts spend more and more time in space, their immune systems become what’s called dysregulated. It doesn’t function as well,” Foster said, according to the AP. “Their immune systems don’t recognize bacteria as easily. They sometimes get sick.”
The squid will return to Earth in July.