wants to learn whether the development of the vestibular system,
which takes only 16 days in quail eggs, depends on adequate stimulation
during a critical period, as is true for other parts of the auditory
system is a uniquely balanced system that we don't think much about
when it works properly," Lysakowski said. "When it doesn't - for
example, in disorders such as Ménière's Disease - people have difficulty
even standing, moving or watching things. It's impossible to function."
The 36 quail
eggs will be housed in a special incubator (called the Avian Development
Facility) designed to guard against the effects of gamma rays, vibration
and conditions during launch and re-entry. Half the eggs will develop
in conditions that approximate Earth's gravity, the others in zero
gravity. The incubator is programmed to inject a fixative that stops
growth in selected eggs at different times.
advanced electron microscopy facilities, Lysakowski and her two
technicians, Steven Price and David Nahey, will study the synaptic
connections that develop between the inner ear and the nerves projecting
to the brain.
says, animals or even humans will be born on space missions. "The
question we want to answer is, when these offspring return to Earth,
will they be able to function in normal gravity?"