, Volume 19, Issue 5-6, pp 170-174

The “ageing” experiment in the spanish soyuz mission to the international space station

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Human exploration of outer space will eventually take place. In preparation for this endeavour, it is important to establish the nature of the biological response to a prolonged exposure to the space environment. In one of the recent Soyuz Missions to serve the International Space Station (ISS), the Spanish Soyuz mission in October 2003, we exposed four groups of Drosophila male imagoes to microgravity during the almost eleven days of the Cervantes mission to study their motility behaviour. The groups were three of young flies and one of mature flies, In previous space experiments, we have shown that when imagoes are exposed to microgravity they markedly change their behaviour by increasing their motility, especially if subjected to these conditions immediately after hatching. The constraints of the current Soyuz flights made it impossible to study the early posthatching period. A low temperature cold transport was incorporated as a possible way out of this constraint. It turned out that on top of the space flight effects, the cold treatment by itself, modifies the motility behaviour of the flies. Although the four groups increased their motility, the young flies did it in a much lower extent than the mature flies that had not been exposed to the low temperature during transportation. Nevertheless, the flies flown in the ISS are still more active than the parallel ground controls. As a consequence of the lower motility stimulation in this experiment, a likely consequence of the cold transport step, no effects on the life spans of the flown flies were detected. Together with previous results, this study confirms that high levels of motility behaviour are necessary to produce significant decreases in fly longevity.