Sunday, September 16, 2007

Going where no Gerbil has gone before

10 Gerbils have been blasted into space for a 12-day mission to test the possible effects on humans of a flight to Mars. The Gerbils were launched from Kazakhstan on Friday 14th September aboard a Foton-M spaceship. The mission will study the physiological and biological effects of long-term flights. The 10 are all sand rodents, praised as "a very interesting object for research" because they "can live for more than a month without using liquids," said Anatoly Grogoryev of the Russian Academy of Science. Day and night will be simulated aboard the spacecraft and the tiny cosmonauts filmed throughout their mission. Unfortunately it will not be a happy ending for all the Gerbils, as several will be dissected on their return to earth. You can't help wishing for a malfunction, and the poor little things go off course and fetch up on a nice little tropical island.