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article imageFish bound for space station

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By Tim Sandle     Jul 31, 2012 in Science
An aquarium of fish has been sent to the International Space Station by Japanese scientists to assess the effects of low gravity and radiation.
The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) sent the aquarium of Medaka fish, via a rocket (Japanese unmanned H-2 Transfer Vehicle-3), to the crew of the International Space Station, according to the Brisbane Times. The purpose, of what has been dubbed the Aquatic Habitat, is to assess the effects of the space environment upon the small, transparent fish.
Medaka fish (Oryzias latipes) are sometimes called Japanese killifish. They are a popular home aquarium fish and are white, creamy yellow, or orange in color.
As indicated in a press statement from NASA, on board the space station, the fish will be subjected to a simulation of day and night conditions. Here scientists will assess bone degradation, muscle atrophy (muscle wasting), and developmental biology. With the fish being transparent, these effects are easy to study. The fish will be studied through special video cameras.
The purpose is to further scientific understanding of bone degradation mechanisms and muscle atrophy, which will help towards knowledge about human health problems. It is an experiment, essentially, for osteoporosis and the effects of a decrease in the mass of the muscle.
The fish will remain in space for up to 90 days, which allows sufficient time for them to breed. JAXA engineer Nobuyoshi Fujimoto is quoted as saying that this time “will make it possible for egg-to-egg breeding aboard station”, up to three generations of fish in one 90-day orbit.”
After the experiment has ended the fish will be examined genetically to see what effect exposure to the sun’s radiation had on them in relation to any mutations which may have occurred.
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