Columbias Other Passengers

Seven astronauts were not the Shuttle's only living passengers on LMS: also hitching a ride were embryos of the hardy Medaka fish, provided by Debra Wolgemuth's team at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, which were being flown as part of investigations into gravity's role in animal development. At intervals, an onboard video microscope provided television viewers with pictures of the growth of the transparent embryos. It was recognised, said Wolgemuth, that understanding the impact of microgravity on vertebrate development would become increasingly important as long-duration space station missions got underway.

A total of 36 embryos of the Medaka - which is known to be especially tolerant of reduced temperatures - developed during the mission. Judging from the video images downlinked from Columbia, ''it appears that the samples in orbit are developing at a

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