Today in news that will blow your mind, (it certainly did mine) it’s been revealed that scientists have zeroed in on the next thing they’d like to shoot into space and apparently, it’s sperm.
As Vice reports, an embryologist from Dexeus Women’s Health in Barcelona, Montserrat Boada, is looking into the concept of space-born children.
To kick off the process, a team of scientists analysed how a group of frozen swimmers took to being thrown into microgravity conditions.
And as bizarre as it might sound, the results were actually quite positive. Which is great if you have hopes to reproduce away from planet Earth, or something.
In a press release on the project, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology shared that:
“…human sperm retains its complete viability within the different gravitational conditions found in outer space.”
“…investigators said that the lack of difference in a range of sperm characteristics observed in frozen sperm samples exposed to microgravity and those maintained in ground conditions’ open the possibility of safely transporting male gametes to space and considering the possibility of creating a human sperm bank outside Earth’. “
Dr Boada went on to explain that while the impacts space has on the human body are well-known at this point, there hasn’t been much exploration into the effects these conditions would have on sperm and eggs:
“Some studies suggest a significant decrease in the motility of human fresh sperm samples,” she explained.
“but nothing has been reported on the possible effects of gravitational differences on frozen human gametes, in which state they would be transported from Earth to space.”
To test this, scientists took ten sperm samples and using a training aircraft “which can provide short-duration hypogravity exposure” observed any changes in “concentration, motility, vitality, morphology and DNA fragmentation”.
There were none.
Before you start making plans to send your, er, seed off on a space mission, however, know that it still is early days for this area of study, and more tests are in the works.
In saying that, though, the exploration of the possibility of humans spending extended periods in outer space is very real.
If you’re keeping up to date with the news surrounding ‘space tourism’ you’ll be aware that Virgin Galactic successfully completed its first departure with a test passenger in February 2019.
The Unity spacecraft carried two pilots and astronaut trainer Beth Moses to the edge of space. And while that is pretty damn incredible in its own right – the idea that people might be travelling to space for a ~holiday~ soon – that’s certainly not where the possibilities end.
“If the number of space missions increases in the coming years and are of longer duration it is important to study the effects of long-term human exposure to space in order to face them,” Dr Boada said.
“It’s not unreasonable to start thinking about the possibility of reproduction beyond the Earth.'”