China to send monkeys in space for zero-gravity mating experiment: Report
Earlier research has evaluated the reproduction of tiny species in space, including zebrafish and insects. Soviet researchers sent the rats into space for an 18-day mating experiment, but upon their return to Earth, they discovered that none of the rodents had given birth.
China is planning to send monkeys to its new Tiangong Space Station to study how they grow and reproduce in a zero-gravity environment. A report from the South China Morning Post, cited scientist Zhang Lu, who leads scientific instruments for the space station, reported that the research would be carried out in the space station's largest module, which would be used for life science experiments.
Only algae, fish, or snails can currently fit inside the two biological test cabinets of the module, but they can be expanded and reconfigured.
"These experiments will help improve our understanding of the organism's adaptation to microgravity and other space environments," the report quoted Dr Lu.
However, earlier research has evaluated the reproduction of tiny species in space, including zebrafish and insects. According to the researchers, there are a number of difficulties involved in doing such studies on more complex living forms like rats and primates. Soviet researchers sent the rats into space for an 18-day mating experiment, but upon their return to Earth, they discovered that none of the rodents had given birth. These huge animals face various challenges when mating in zero gravity.
The challenges with feeding the monkeys and disposing of their faeces during the trial are being highlighted by the researchers. It is also being stated that since this can impact sexual behaviour, monkeys should be housed in their space station habitats in a relaxed and comfortable manner. Currently, the Tiangong Space Station is home to three astronauts: Chen Dong, Cai Xueze, and Liu Yang, two men and one woman.