It's a huge discovery that could help mankind save many animal species in the event of a doomsday event, or even our own species.
Scientists have just pulled off an amazing feat on the International Space Station, one that could lead to scientific breakthroughs down the line. They’ve managed to give birth to mice by using mouse sperm that was preserved on the ISS for nine months, according to a new study.
The finding indicates that all animals, including humans, might one day be able to reproduce in space if need be. It also raises the possibility of creating a “doomsday vault” for sperm in space to preserve animal species in case of a disaster on Earth, similar to the Global Seed Vault in Norway, which preserves plant species.
There are challenges to this, of course. The ISS, since it is outside the protective cocoon of the atmosphere, endures 100 times higher radiation than Earth does, which could cause damage to the sperm and eggs. Researchers examined the effects of radiation by sending samples of freeze-dried mouse sperm into space, which was stored for 288 days.
“Radiation on the International Space Station (ISS) is more than 100 times stronger than at the Earth’s surface, and at levels that can cause DNA damage in somatic cell nuclei,” a summary from the paper reads. “The damage to offspring caused by this irradiation in germ cells has not been examined, however. Here we preserved mouse spermatozoa on the ISS for 9 mo. Although sperm DNA was slightly damaged during space preservation, it could be repaired by the oocyte cytoplasm and did not impair the birth rate or normality of the offspring. Our results demonstrate that generating human or domestic animal offspring from space-preserved spermatozoa is a possibility, which should be useful when the “space age” arrives.”