Fruit Flies In Space

Fruit Flies In Space

This virtual mission “Fruit Flies in Space” was part of the payload on NASA’s STS 134 flight. It is a biology based mission which focuses on the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster and uses actual photographs, video and data downlinked from the International Space Station.

The mission is designed to have students support the work of NASA scientist Dr. Sharmila Bhattacharya, Head of the Biomodel Performance and Behavior Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center, as she studies the effects of microgravity on the development, behavior and movement of this organism.

Sharmila Bhattacharya

Biomodel Performance and Behavior Laboratory, NASA Ames Research Center

Principal Investigator

By studying the behaviors of the Fruit Fly and other model organisms in microgravity scientists contribute to the body of knowledge in understanding how organisms adjust to their environment. All organisms use the same basic signaling pathways and good data shows how changes in gravity alter these systems. Behavior changes can then be used to analyze the genetic basis for the change. Because the Fruit Fly genome has genetic similarity with the human genome information gained in studying these simple organisms can then be translated to complex human organisms.

Students will report observations and measurements of the Fruit Fly behaviors by comparing photographic records from the International Space Station and an earth-based comparison study. Student data collected on the OQ web site will then be sent to Dr. Bhattacharya for review and possible inclusion in research databanks.

Fruit Flies In Space – Additional Reading