Sending baby squid to the space station.

BBC reports on a NASA project that’s transporting cute little cephalopods into orbit, launching 128 baby bobtail squid and 5,000 tardigrades to the International Space Station to see how space travel affects the way microbes and larger creatures interact:

“Animals, including humans, rely on our microbes to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system. We do not fully understand how spaceflight alters these beneficial interactions,” Jamie Foster, the experiment’s principal investigator said.

She added that the squid will be able to address “these important issues in animal health”.

The squid will be frozen before their return to Earth.

They are also joined on the Space X rocket by 5,000 tardigrades, more commonly referred to as water bears. The microscopic animals can tolerate environments more extreme than most life forms can. This makes them perfect for studying how life responds and adapts to extreme environments.

It is hoped that this information can then be used to understand the stress factors affecting humans in space.