Tuesday, November 17, 2009

High Hopes

Even an afternoon shuttle launch is a pretty cool sight from My Florida Backyard. On Monday afternoon, Space Shuttle Atlantis took off on mission STS-129, headed for the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of spare parts.

As I stood in the warm grass watching the shuttle lift off, two Monarchs fluttered among the milkweed nearby. They, of course, had no idea that high above, some of their relatives were going where none had gone before. You see, Atlantis had some pretty unusual passengers on board as well - Monarch and Painted Lady caterpillars! The ISS crew will be overseeing an experiment to see how zero-gravity affects these caterpillars as they attempt to pupate and then emerge as butterflies.

There's a lot of great information on the web about this experiment - click here for an overview and links to photos, videos, and updates.

Here's hoping that our caterpillar buddies thrive 220 miles above the earth - we'll be thinking of them with our feet firmly on the ground in My Florida Backyard!

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