Non-mutant mice sired from space sperm boost hope of cosmic human conceptionEnlarge (credit: Georges Méliès)
To ensure the long-term survival of humankind, we might as well shoot for the Moon.
In 2013, Japanese researchers did just that by launching freeze-dried mouse sperm into space.

The goal was to see if mammalian swimmers can maintain their spunk amid harsh cosmic radiation—which they’ll undoubtedly have to endure for humans to thrive in the coming space age.

The result: after nine months on the International Space Station (ISS), sperm did show signs of DNA damage, but they were still able to produce healthy, fertile offspring.
This is good news, the authors explain in PNAS. “In the future, humans likely will live on large-scale space stations or in other space habitats for several years or even over many generations,” they write.

To maintain genetic diversity in small colonies, treat infertility, and breed domestic animals in our future interstellar homes, preserved sperm and eggs may be critical.
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