It only takes a cursory look around us to remind everyone that humanity really needs to work faster at shopping around for its next planet to
recklessly deplete of all natural beauty and resources establish as a new home. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and a lot of work is still required to ensure that everyone’s still in one piece after however long we spend traveling across the vast, uncaring, deadly void of space... but apparently, there’s one human biological factor that we don’t need to worry about any longer.
As explained last week over at Inside Hook, Japanese scientists recently published their latest findings in the research journal, Science Advances, on the impressive/horrifying resiliency of sperm cells. The article, “Evaluating the long-term effect of space radiation on the reproductive normality of mammalian sperm preserved on the International Space Station,” details... well, exactly what the title implies, we suppose. To accomplish this feat of human-mouse ingenuity, researchers freeze-dried rodent semen, then launched the stuff up to the ISS aboard a rocket where it then remained, hovering above the Earth, for six damn years.
Scientists assumed outer space’s utter inhospitableness and/or the ravaging effects of solar radiation would have at least some effect on the microscopic mice-to-be... but no dice. Not only did the unfrozen mouse sperm maintain its “reproductive viability” upon its return to terra firma, but it then helped produce a number of “genetically normal” baby mice, according to one of the study’s authors.
What’s more, scientists estimate that other varieties of freeze-dried mammalian semen (read: ours) could maintain an outer space shelf life of around 200 years or so, which apart from providing an apt metaphor regarding just how goddamn stubborn men are, provides humanity with some optimistic news regarding our chances for colonizing other planets once the aforementioned men finish ruining the one we’re currently on right now.
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