No, it’s not the set up to a joke: Elon Musk’s SpaceX really did just launch ants, avocados, shrimp and a robot arm into space, assisted by a group of especially innovative Girl Scouts.
The seemingly peculiar shipment blasted off into space on Sunday, carrying 4,800 pounds worth of supplies for a group of astronauts stationed at the International Space Station, according to Insider. The researchers on ISS are currently conducting experiments on how to grow food in space, and the Girl Scouts are responsible for the ants, brine shrimp (better known as “sea monkeys”) and seedlings, intended for experimentation at the space station.
There are a good number of experiments, including a Girl Scouts ant farm, a drug delivery experiment, a small robot… https://t.co/0lZ97KoRzm
One of the Girl Scouts experiments will “examine how tomatoes, peppers, and lemongrass grow in microgravity,” the ISS National Laboratory reported, while another “will assess the tunneling behavior of ants in space, in the hopes that ants could someday help aerate the soil for crops grown on other planets.”
The third “will incubate and sustain a colony of brine shrimp, popularized as ‘sea monkeys,’ to see whether other crustaceans could be raised in space as a fresh protein source for future astronauts.” The robot arm, on the other hand (no pun intended), was provided by Japanese startup Gitai, and is to be used for repairs and menial tasks.
The supplies were carried into orbit by a capsule called the Dragon, and are set to arrive Monday.