For the first time in history, two butterflies have survived the chrysalis stage of development and spread their wings as fully grown Painted Lady butterflies in microgravity.
Although many species of insects have boldly gone where no insect has gone before, this is the first occasion that a butterfly has survived the larvae phase, gone on to form a chrysalis and then emerge as a mature butterfly.
This International Space Station (ISS) outreach experiment is organized by BioServe Space Technologies and the University of Colorado for students on the ground to follow the progress of the orbiting creatures. The school kids can then compare the development of butterflies in the classroom with their orbiting cousins.
The experiment was launched on board space shuttle Atlantis earlier this month.
It will be interesting to see how the butterflies respond to the microgravity conditions and how their growth might be affected. Butterflies attempting to fly in microgravity will also be a very interesting thing to see.
If you are interested in finding out more, you can download images and teacher’s guides from the Baylor College of Medicine BioEd Online website.