Teachers, Astronauts, and butterflies

A cool opportunity for teachers!!

WANTED: Up to 20 schools (in the U.S., east of the Rocky Mountains) to follow the development of monarchs on the International Space Station.

The next Space Shuttle launch is scheduled for November 16th. Atlantis will carry three 4th instar monarch caterpillars to the International Space Station (ISS) in a small rearing chamber. This chamber will be placed in an incubator aboard the ISS where the developing monarchs will be monitored. Still and video cameras will continually capture images, which will be made available online.

We have prepared a text that outlines normal development of monarchs from the fourth instar until emergence as adults. This detailed text is written for adults and contains an extensive glossary. It is intended to provide the information teachers need to answer student questions and as a guide to the five major challenges monarchs face in the nearly weightless environment of the International Space Station.

If you would like your school or classroom to participate, please contact us at monarch[at]ku.edu before 5PM this Friday (November 6th).

Monarch Watch will send a special monarch larva kit to participating schools. The monarch kit costs $17.95 and the overnight shipping will be an additional $26 for a total of $43.95. BioServe Space Technologies will send participating classrooms a kit that includes a rearing chamber (similar to the one going into space) with instructions.

The kit consists of six 3rd instar larvae on artificial diet and additional cups of diet. Three larvae will be loaded into the rearing chamber.  One of the cups with diet will be used to fill the feeding trays in the chamber you will receive from BioServe. The other cups of diet can be used to feed the remaining larvae until they are ready to add to the finishing cups. Additional instructions will be provided regarding these points.

If you participate in this program your students will be able to follow the shuttle mission to the space station and the development of the monarchs in space for at least two weeks.

The background materials, additional instructions, and relevant links will be available at http://www.monarchwatch.org

If you have any questions, please let us know!

Jim Lovett
Monarch Watch

Update on Space Roaches!

You may remember that in October I reported the birth of roaches in space–now there’s an update:

“VORONEZH, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – Cockroaches conceived in space onboard the Russian Foton-M bio satellite have developed faster and become hardier than ‘terrestrial’ ones, a research supervisor said on Thursday.

The research team has been monitoring the cockroaches since they were born in October. The scientists established that their limbs and bodies grew faster.

“What is more, we have found out that the creatures… run faster than ordinary cockroaches, and are much more energetic and resilient,” Dmitry Atyakshin said.”Zombie Roach

It seems from the article the observed changes weren’t permanent. Or, perhaps, they need a larger sample size?

Way too little details here to judge, but the prospect of radioactive mutant zombie space roaches is tantalizing…..