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Mouse sperm frozen on space station produces healthy pups

TOKYO: Mouse sperm exposed to high amounts of cosmic radiation for nearly six years produced a big brood of healthy, ordinary “space pups”, claim Japanese researchers.

In 2013, the most travelled mouse sperm in history left Earth on its way to the International Space Station (ISS).

The free-dried sperm was carried back to the planet in a SpaceX shuttle after almost six years of soaking high amounts of cosmic radiation in space and used to breed litters here on Earth to see how it held up over time in space. At the end result was incredible.

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According to the study, which were published on Friday in the journal Science Advances, revealed that the freeze-fried mouse sperm resulted in the birth of 168 healthy pups with no genetic problems.

Teruhiko Wakayama, developmental biologist and lead author of the study told to news agency AFP, there was minimal difference between mice fertilised by space sperm and mice fertilised by sperm that remained confined to Earth.

All of the puppies appeared to be normal and had no deformities, Wakayama added.

The viability of freeze-dried mouse sperm in space may not appear to be a game-changer in science, but it does reveal something about humanity’s expectations for long-term intergalactic travel.

In their research, Wakayama and colleagues wrote ,“When the time comes to migrate to other planets, we’ll need to preserve the diversity of genetic resources, not just for people but also for pets and domestic animals.”

Stored germ cells will most likely be transferred by spaceships rather than living animals due to cost and safety concerns.

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