Posts Tagged ‘Astronauts’

Russia tests monkeys for Mars trip

April 16, 2008

They won’t utter Yuri Gagarin’s famous phrase “Let’s go!” But the monkeys of Sochi have already proven their worth as trailblazers in space – and now they are being groomed for a trip to Mars.

The macaques will be the first to experience the radiation that poses a big risk to astronauts – or Russian cosmonauts – on any flight to the Red Planet.

The Sochi Institute of Medical Primatology, at Vesyoloye near the Black Sea, has a proud history of involvement in the Russian – formerly Soviet – space programme.

“People and monkeys have approximately identical sensitivity to small and large radiation doses,” explains the institute’s director, Boris Lapin. “So it is better to experiment on the macaques, but not on dogs or other animals.”

The institute will select macaques that may eventually fly to Mars before humans do. After two years of experiments the most suitable 40 monkeys will be sent to the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, where scientists study aerospace biomedicine.

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Next Up: Pets in Space?

March 26, 2008

He’s not very cute or cuddly and he’s certainly not welcome inside the house, but the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are captivated with their new pet: a massive robot named Dextre. The mechanical beast, delivered and assembled by the visiting space shuttle Endeavour crew, stands like a guard dog on top of the U.S. laboratory Destiny.

“He’s built to be brawn, not brains,” said Endeavour astronaut Richard Linnehan. Linnehan, a former veterinarian, is among some who feel real pets will eventually have a place in space.

“I think someday it’s inevitable,” Linnehan told Discovery News in a preflight interview. “We get to the point where we have colonies on the moon and colonies on Mars and we have large areas of pressurized living space. I think pets will be there for sure. Pets follow people around.”

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