While you're sitting in your little hut you call home, rats in NASA's care are about to get a new home to live in when they are in space. You should let this sink in when you consider that rats are going to space, and you're still stuck in traffic.

The new cages will be specially designed and will fly into space in August onboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship. This is part of a prolonged study on the effect of weightlessness on long space flights. The study tries to understand how microgravity affects the human body. Things like cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive and sensorimotor are all part of the research.

Rodents had been a part of the space program since 1950 when the first rodents flew into space via a V-2 rocket. Monkeys and chimps have no doubt taken the spotlight here, but rodents play a key role in space medicine, with around 27 batches of rodents being sent to space between 1983 and 2011.

"Astronauts currently spend six months at a time living in a weightless environment aboard the space station. Mission planners anticipate future missions to Mars will last two years or more and will expose crews to varying levels of gravity and space radiation. We must know in advance how humans will adjust to these conditions," says NASA.

The results from this research are important to the health of astronauts who will go on board on long-term space travels. Furthermore, this research can help treat diseases on Earth, so already we get to see how important these rodents are as they set out to help in the betterment of humanity.

You might not have realized this, but space flight usually causes changes in bones and the immune system, which have similar characteristics to well-known conditions such as osteoporosis.

The research is expected to run for about half a year, since six months is around one fourth of the lifespan of these rodents.

"Studies on these rodents in space have the potential to extrapolate important implications for humans living in space well beyond six months," according to the National Research Council's report.

It is likely many of these rodents won't survive the trip back to Earth as they give their lives to improve our health. All hail the super rodents, looking out for humanity, even if they were forced to do so.

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