Mice born from spermatozoa exposed for 6 years to cosmic radiation aboard the International Space Station (ISS) enjoy excellent health.
The result of the experiment is published in the journal Science Advances by the group of the Japanese University of Yamanashi led by Teruhiko Wakayama.
There are 168 mice and they will help to understand the possible risks to fertility in view of future long-duration missions that will see the astronauts engaged on the Moon and then on Mars.
In the coming decades, human exploration could involve long-term space travel, if not the construction of inhabited colonies in a stable form.
One of the fears for such long-time missions is linked to exposure to cosmic radiation, the effects of which are not yet well known, particularly on fertility.
To better understand the possible risks, the Japanese researchers had sent ampoules containing mouse spermatozoa dehydrated at low temperatures aboard the Space Station in 2013.
Returned to the ground after 6 years and 'rehydrated' they then led to the birth of 168 healthy puppies without genetic alterations.
According to the study, the sperm stored in this way could have been successfully stored on the ISS, without suffering damage, for at least 200 years.