Archive for Thursday, November 12, 2009

KU to launch Monarch butterflies into space

Students in eastern U.S. to follow KU’s butterflies in space

Kansas University students and Monarch Watch research assistants Emily Hrenchir, Paola sophomore, front, and Kate Bendfeldt, Leawood senior, transfer caterpillars to small plastic containers equipped with food that will be placed in larger packages to be shipped to hundreds of classrooms in the eastern half of the country as part of the “Monarchs in Space” program. Three monarchs supplied by Kansas University’s Monarch Watch program are set to be carried into space Nov. 16 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.

Kansas University students and Monarch Watch research assistants Emily Hrenchir, Paola sophomore, front, and Kate Bendfeldt, Leawood senior, transfer caterpillars to small plastic containers equipped with food that will be placed in larger packages to be shipped to hundreds of classrooms in the eastern half of the country as part of the “Monarchs in Space” program. Three monarchs supplied by Kansas University’s Monarch Watch program are set to be carried into space Nov. 16 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.

November 12, 2009

Advertisement

Monarch butterflies to make space flight

A KU program is sending butterflies into space. School children in Lawrence will raise their own butterflies and compare the results with the insects in space. Enlarge video

Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor displays an example of what a starter kit for raising monarchs can look like. In this example, Taylor uses a plastic container for the housing and two-liter bottle caps to contain food.

Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor displays an example of what a starter kit for raising monarchs can look like. In this example, Taylor uses a plastic container for the housing and two-liter bottle caps to contain food.

The International Space Station is getting some unusual new temporary residents — monarch butterflies from Kansas University’s Monarch Watch program.

Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch, said that three butterfly larvae will be sent into space, and would be observed throughout their development.

Students in more than 425 schools across the eastern part of the country will follow along with the experiment, using kits from Monarch Watch to observe their own monarchs, comparing their results with the space experiment.

Cameras will be set up, and results will be shown on a Web site, www.monarchwatch.org/space.

“It’s going to be fun,” Taylor said. “The kids are going to be able to see the full process in their classrooms.”

Taylor said he doesn’t know how the monarchs will fare in the near-weightless environment, but whatever happens, scientists will learn more about the capabilities of the species.

KU’s Monarch Watch program, which tracks the migration patterns of the butterflies on an annual basis, got involved with the space program after developing an artificial diet that can sustain the animals in space.

Response from schools has been much higher than anticipated, Taylor said. He sent out an e-mail asking for 20 interested participants and received more than 1,000 replies.

The artificial diet — something it took Taylor more than 20 months and more than 90 failed attempts to create — may also have other applications for the program. Already, he said, he’s received offers to participate in projects such as mapping the monarch’s genome.

About 20 to 30 kits — including butterfly larvae, food for the caterpillars and a stick for chrysalis formation — will be available for the public for $15 at Foley Hall today, Taylor said, for others who may want to conduct a similar experiment at their homes.

Comments

bigdave 5 years, 7 months ago

Students in more than 425 schools across the eastern part of the country will follow along with the experiment,


Ya no schools around here but KS taxes pay for it!!!!!!

luckysgirl 5 years, 7 months ago

Why can't we leave well enough alone? How will this help the Monarch? The environment? Our tax deficit? Our schools? The idea of sending butterflies into space strikes me as a ludicrous waste of time and money, especially considering the present state of our economy. KU, you lost me on this one.

parrothead8 5 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, because it's going to cost SO much to pack a webcam and three butterfly larvae into a space shuttle.

Besides, we don't learn anything from studying species other than our own. Science is stupid.

1029 5 years, 7 months ago

It's time to get rid of science once and for all!

compmd 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm amazed at the anti-science people here. This is good science, otherwise whatever space agency is sending the experiment up wouldn't send it.

Good job students. When the experiment is over, I, for one, will welcome our Monarch butterfly overlords from space.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 7 months ago

yeah, i'm pretty amazed at how quickly people are to shut things down that they don't understand. you see boys and girls, everything that we understand about the natural world is because of science. just because you don't understand the usefulness of it now, does not mean it's merits won't be appreciated for years. What if zero gravity butterfly sh!t turns out to be the cure for cancer? we don't know, maybe it is.

bigdave 5 years, 7 months ago

AreUNorml (Anonymous) says… What if zero gravity butterfly sh!t turns out to be the cure for cancer?


Had to wipe the coffee off my monitor and key board on that one!!!!! Thanks AreUNorml LOL!!

zzgoeb 5 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, like the other knuckleheads said...science is stupid. That stupid program in the 60's to go to the moon, nothing came out of that...oh, except miniaturized computers that helped create personal computers like the one you used to post here, cell phones, and oh, everything else in you car and house that make things work...what a stupid program, and it wasted our taxes!!! Why don't you all get together for some tea, and soak your fat heads...just a thought!

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 7 months ago

And the little dudes are gonna have little monarch astronaut suits to fly back to Mexico....

fooledagain 5 years, 7 months ago

why do we keep messing with mother nature??

8muddyboots 5 years, 7 months ago

Seems like a super cool, super cheap, low maintenance way to get everyone thinking outside the box. I sincerely doubt this is being funded by KU - more likely a national science foundation partnership project with NASA - you know, like to get our kids more engaged in science & technology because the US is lagging behind the rest of the world in innovation. Please please shut your mouths long enough to connect a few dots.

devobrun 5 years, 7 months ago

zzgob:

Having worked for NASA and foreign government equivalents over the past 35 years, I can say that your comments about the development of modern communications equipment is quite incorrect.

The transistor was invented by Shockley, Brattain, and Bardeen at Bell Labs: http://www.pbs.org/transistor/album1/index.html

They were working on telephone projects in the 1940s.

The integrated circuit was from Kilby at TI and Noyce, who co-founded Intel. These were done in about 1958.

The theory of communications is called Information theory and is the work of Claude Shannon. This was done in the 1930s.

All before the space era.

The seminal work by these folks laid the groundwork for further miniaturization and more and more compact electronics. Intel has led the way in digital ICs. They got most of their money from the Air Force initially. The money and drive for further miniaturization came mostly from consumer products and military. That's were the money was. Space program.......small potatoes.
Or another way to look at things is that NASA and the "space program" was a P.R. campaign to justify the military expenditures for spacecraft. Much of NASA's rocket program was funded by the military. Man-on-the-moon? Hype to cover the real goals....claim the high ground.


The stuff in your home came about from money that was fronted by ATT via Bell labs, the greatest engineering think tank of all times. It also came from the military. Your attribution of consumer electronics to the space program is a history that I find untrue from first-hand knowledge.

Go chase some butterflies.

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years, 7 months ago

What are we going to learn from this?

Hell, save the planet instead! Empty all the landfills and start shooting our garbage into space. There's a lot of room out there...

RKLOG 5 years, 7 months ago

All of you need to launched into the sun.

devobrun 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh, just in case my earlier blog wasn't overt regarding the hype aspect of this butterfly exp:

425 schools, live video, built-in lesson plans for 5th grade teachers, all add up to modern science.

Modern science is big government hype. What will we learn? That teachers are bored with their old lesson plans. That big government wants students to think that this is science. And finally, that science of butterflies is just as interesting and fruitful as the science of the military.

Its style, folks. Its peace and love and science.

Damn hippies.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 7 months ago

"Yeah, because it's going to cost SO much to pack a webcam and three butterfly larvae into a space shuttle."

YES, it will actually. I'm not opposing this (although, I have to admit that I'm unable to imagine what the "expected" benefit is); but if you think a 12" X 12" box in the shuttle won't cost much, you're out of touch. Those launches are incredibly expensive, and every inch of space "costs" NASA. Furthermore, every time we launch a shuttle, there is a significant risk of loss of human life.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.