Studying the behavior of ants in space

Ant Forage Habitat Facility (Credit: NASA)
Ant Forage Habitat Facility (Credit: NASA/Flickr)

Astronomers are studying the behavior and colonization of ants in microgravity and comparing this behavior with that in normal condition of gravity. The behavior may include the interaction rate of a group of ants and the number of ants in a specific area.

This study has been done in International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Expedition 38 flight engineer, is working on them using a video camera.

Cameras record the movement and behavior of ants and software checks the movement patterns and interaction rates. There are eight ant habitats having three areas: nest area, Forage Area 1 and Forage Area 2. A sealed “door” separates each area from the other.

Principal Investigator in the study is Deborah Gordon, Ph.D., Department of Biology, CA, United States.

NASA has also involved students in grades K-12, who are observing the videos and conducting their experiments.

The Ant Forage Habitat Facility is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. The study examines the behavior of ants by comparing groups living on Earth to those in space. (NASA/Flickr)
The Ant Forage Habitat Facility is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. The study examines the behavior of ants by comparing groups living on Earth to those in space. (NASA/Flickr)

Source:

Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus Science Insert – 06: Ants in Space (CSI-06) – 01.09.14 – NASA (http://goo.gl/P7HfVf)

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.