Tag Archives: worms

Worms on Mars!

Scientists growing plants on Earth using a simulated Martian soil have found that earthworms like it.

These slimy invertebrates play a key role in making Earth soil healthy by digesting dead organic matter and excreting a potent fertilizer that helps release nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Their constant burrowing also helps lighten up the soil, allowing air and water to seep through better.

That’s an important improvement for the simulated Mars soil, which water struggled to soak through in previous tests. Altogether, the tests showed that the combination of worms and pig slurry helped the plants grow in Martin soil, and the worms not only thrived but reproduced. “Clearly the manure stimulated growth, especially in the Mars soil simulant, and we saw that the worms were active,” says Wamelink. “However, the best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found two young worms in the Mars soil simulant.”

Obviously, we do not know yet how the worms would respond to the lower Martian gravity, but it sure would be a significant experiment to see them reproduce there.

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A student experiment that was successfully flown up and down to ISS by Dragon is apparently a failure because no one on ISS ever turned it on.

A student experiment — successfully flown up and down to ISS by Dragon — is apparently a failure because no one on ISS ever turned it on.

Per instructions from NanoRacks, the Houston company that works with NASA to integrate such deliveries, Warren packed his worms, or C. elegans, into a glass ampule, or tube, then packed that tube into a larger one containing a liquid “growth medium” for the worms. An astronaut aboard the space station was to crack the outer ampule in a way that would release the worms into the surrounding liquid. It never happened.

The article is very diplomatic about this, but it is very clear that either the astronauts on ISS screwed up, or NASA did by not giving them clear instructions.

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New research suggests that — despite its known bad effects — weightlessness might actually slow the aging process.

New research suggests that — despite its known bad effects — weightlessness might actually slow the aging process.

Don’t jump into that spaceship yet! The research was done on worms, and is to put it mildly very preliminary. Moreover, none of the results change anything regarding the serious loss of bone density and the weakening of the muscles and cardiovascular system caused by weightlessness.

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