Space is a tough place for humans to be. It’s really cold, and there isn’t any air to breathe. Being in space can even change people’s bodies! Astronauts lose muscle mass. Their muscles and bones get weaker as they float around. No worries though — mighty mice are here to save the day!
Mighty mice aren’t actual superheroes. They are mutant mice raised by scientists. Experts gave the mighty mice double the muscle mass of regular mice. Then, they sent these creatures to the International Space Station (ISS).
There were 40 mice in this group. They included both mighty mice and normal critters. They launched in a SpaceX rocket in December 2019. After 33 days in space, the animals came back in January. Scientists looked for changes in their bodies. They shared their findings this month.
The researchers discovered that 24 normal mice lost muscle mass just like human astronauts do. But a group of eight enhanced mice kept their muscles! Another eight mice got a medicine to help them become mighty mice while in space. Those animals actually got larger muscles in space! Their bone density and weight went up too.
Scientists can learn a lot from this squeaky study. The experiment may help keep astronauts healthy in future space missions. It could help people make it to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. It may also be important right here on Earth. Many people struggle with bone and muscle problems. The study could lead to better treatment for these kinds of conditions.
So, maybe these space mice actually are heroes. They don’t know it, but they could save lives. Little critters sure can have a mighty impact!
Updated September 17, 2020, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Teresa Johnson
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