NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is also the team who is responsible for sending men and women into outer space. NASA has done some pretty amazing things, as well as some pretty crazy things. NASA fed Apollo 11 moon rocks to cockroaches (and then things got even weirder).
The Lunar Rocks
When the Apollo 11 crew went to the moon, they brought back moon rocks. They planned to perform experiments to see what the rocks were made up of. This isn’t the only things that they did with the rocks. They fed the samples to cockroaches, they dumped them into fishbowls, and they even injected mice with particles of the rocks. The scientists were sure that there were no potentially dangerous germs living on the moon, but they weren’t entirely sure.
The team who studied the rocks saw them as an incredible gift to science, but they could also have been a curse on Earth. If the rocks turned out to be a threat to humans, it could have been disastrous. While they were sure that the rocks couldn’t contaminate human beings, they wanted to be sure that they were safe to be around fish, birds, and animals.
Charles Berry was the man in charge of the medical operations during Apollo. In 1999, he stated that it was important to him to prove that what was in the rocks wouldn’t affect our world or health. He realized that a program needed to be developed to make sure that the rocks would be safe.
When the astronauts on the Apollo missions, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned from their trip,*+9, they were moved to isolation immediately. A few mice would also put into isolation with the two astronauts. They were injected with lunar material and monitored as closely as the crew. Armstrong and Aldrin also watched the mice because it gave them something to do while they were in isolation.
Judith Hayes is the chief of NASA’s Biomedical Research and Environmental Services Division. She once worked in the building that housed the quarantine facility, and she had the opportunity to speak with the scientists who accompanied the astronauts. According to Judith, if the rodents did well, they would be released on time. If they weren’t doing well, NASA planned to examine them much more closely and longer.
Confirming that humans and mice would survive a chance lunar encounter wasn’t enough. NASA wanted to make sure that all other living things on Earth would be safe. This was going to be a bit more complicated. They knew that they would have to do more than watch for coughs or rashes. The team involved knew that they were navigating a sea of ignorance because they had no idea what to expect. This was something that no scientists had ever studied before.
Choosing the Species
The first thing that NASA had to do was choose the species that they would use. In addition to the mice, they chose a Japanese quail to represent the bird family, and a few nondescript fish, brown shrimp, and oysters for shellfish. They also used German cockroaches and houseflies. The idea was to test as many different types of species as possible to see if there is anything on the moon that can be toxic for creatures on Earth.
After watching the test subjects for quite some time, the researchers found that the moon dust affected just one. The oysters died, but the researchers believe that because the testing took place during mating season, the oysters died off because they couldn’t mate like the rest of their species. Each of the other test subjects came through with flying colors, and they were all released to go on with their lives.
The results of the test were significant for NASA. The fact that they found nothing toxic to the living thing on Earth allowed them to go further with the space program. It was this data that resulted in more space explorations because NASA knew for sure that there was nothing on the moon that could be dangerous to live on Earth. The space program is incredibly important for us to be able to learn more about the universe and understand it better. Now that NASA knows that the moon is safe, they can start working toward putting a man on Mars. This is going to be a bit more difficult based on the distance between Earth and Mars and the harsh conditions on the planet, but if anyone can do it, it is NASA. Only time will tell what the next mission will be, but if it is a trip to Mars, you can be sure that there will be another quarantine to make sure that there are no toxins on the red planet.