An educational experiment launched on November 16th has yielded four "butterflynauts" aboard the International Space Station.

As of December 1st, four Painted Lady butterflies emerged hatched after the butterfly larvae formed chrysalises on the space station, according to Stefanie Countryman, BioServe Space Technologies payload mission manager. BioServe is using their Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus to conduct the space experiments.

The experiment is being replicated in US classrooms to compare the growth and behavior of ground-based butterfly larvae and adult butterflies with those living in the microgravity environment of space.

A challenge of space exploration is understanding exactly how microgravity and antigravity effect growth and the life cycle. The collaborative experiments are also intended to encourage students to pursue science and technology. A teacher's guide is available on the BioEd Online site.

Videos of the butterflynauts are being released by BioServe as they available on YouTube and BioEd Online. A video of the butterflies in space appears after the jump.
categories Sci-Fi