Early development in aquatic vertebrates in near weightlessness during the D-2 Mission STATEX project.

Abstract

Aboard the German-Spacelab-Mission D-2 the project "Gravity Perception and Neuronal Plasticity (STATEX II)" was performed. STATEX is for STATolith EXperiment. Objects were growing tadpoles of the South African Toad (Xenopus laevis D.) and a juvenile cichlid fish (Oreochromis mossambicus). The results give a broader base for the understanding of how environmental stimuli (e.g. linear accelerations) affect the development and function of the gravity perceiving systems in these two vertebrates. These systems are accepted as models for the human vestibulum. Results of experiments in hyper-g (up to 5 g), simulated weightlessness (Fast-rotating-clinostat) and parabolic flights are compared and discussed.