Thursday, May 01, 2003

Gee, if Frodo had only checked this site, he wouldn't have had to mess around with that smelly ol' Strider guy after all.

Shuttle's Worms Found Thriving in Debris
As NASA begins closing down its primary shuttle debris collection sites, a surprising and symbolic find has heartened the team tasked with the grim and challenging chore of piece together the wreckage: worms, packed aboard the shuttle as an experiment, not only survived Columbia's breakup and free-fall, but thrived.

"It's really wonderful," said Terri Lomax, director of NASA's fundamental space biology program at the agency's Washington, D.C. headquarters. "We never expected this."

Lomax's research team at Ames Research Center in California received the first samples on Wednesday — pencil-tip sized nematodes that had flown in Petri dishes to test a new synthetic nutrient solution designed to extend the critters' lives.

Evidently it works. The worms, known by their scientific nomenclature as C. elegans, were in their fourth or fifth regeneration since being packed aboard the shuttle for launch on Jan. 16.