Astronaut Ants

Space AntA new crop of astronaut recruits are ready to prove themselves among the cosmos.

They’ve been training hard by eating a hardy diet of honeydew, and lifting as much as 50 times their own weight.

Their number has been called, as 800 highly qualified space cadets board a private robotic space craft headed to the stars.

After a three-day journey, each of these space-flyers will set their SIX feet down, calling the International Space Station their new home.

Yes, you heard me right… Six feet!

These new space explorers are not your typical astronauts. They’re ants– or what I like to call, “ant-ronauts!”

Astronaut Ants: 800 Ants Sent To Space

Earlier this month a NASA sponsored experiment was put into action as eight ant farms were sent to the International Space Station as it orbit right above Mexico. A private, robotic, unmanned spaceship called the Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo vehicle left Earth Thursday January 9th, and touched down on the space station early January 12th. On board– Some 800 Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum).

The Purpose Of Space Ants

The purpose of this experiment, and sending the ants to outer-space, is for students to observe and study the ant’s behaviors and movements in a microgravity environment. Researchers believe that by understanding how ants tolerate and adapt to a microgravity environment, we may be able to build improved swarming algorithms.

Learn about how ants use algorithms here.

“We have devised ways to organize the robots in a burning building, or how a cellphone network can respond to interference, but the ants have been evolving algorithms for doing this for 150 million years. Learning about the ants’ solutions might help us design network systems to solve similar problems.”

–Deborah Gordon- principal investigator of the project.

Eight ant farms will be monitored remotely, by camera, and will be observed and documented via live feed.  After the data is collected, it may be years before we unlock the secrets of microgravity and ant algorithms.

Until then school-kids, grades K-12, can observe the ants via live feed, and compare the ant’s behavior to other terrestrial ant farms they may have in their classrooms.

Let’s just hope those space ants don’t escape, and set up residence inside the suits of the astronauts living inside the space station. Instead of ants in the pants, we’ll have ants in the space suit.


Anthony Ball is a Content Marketing Manager with Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality pest control service. Bulwark is fully operational in nine states, including thirteen major cities. While Bulwark provides pest extermination for common pests like ants, roaches, crickets and spiders; the company's differentiating aspect is great personalized service. Bulwark uses the finest and most effective products in the world to solve common pest problems.

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