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Can dogs or cats survive in zero gravity without human assitance?

  1. Oct 6, 2011 #1
    The kinds of experiments involving animals in space have only answered simple questions of survivability in captivity where human assistance is at hand. The big problems of space colonization have yet to be answered. I thought up this question when someone on this forum posted a response to my question of a large scale hydroponic space experiment where they answered the experiment could be conducted on earth! But subtly a ground base experiment could not answer some important questions. For instance the issue of pollination could be problematic on a large scale using artificial means, like say fans that blow air with sufficient force to move pollen. So the next approach would be bees. But can bees survive in zero gravity, and in orbit where the sun zips across a dome every fifteen minutes? Remember bees use the sun to orient themselves to return to their hive or food cache.

    Some jump to the immediate conclusion that because bees have been placed in orbit and shown to produce honey that the question of their survival in orbit has already been answered. But just as orbiting dogs and cats proved that these animals survived the trip they did so in a very controlled way. If you think about it a dog or cat on the ISS just floating around is going to have a real hard time. Because the animal cannot grasp handles it would be impossible for it to have any kind of control over its location and movement on the space station! The animals ability to just travel to its food pouch is impossible, in fact such a space trip for the animal would create a lot of anxiety and perhaps even depression because it cannot move about freely. So in the end can dogs and cats really survive in zero gravity?

    But the more important question for the colonization of space is can bees or some other pollinator survive in zero gravity? Can the bees orient themselves so they do not become confused as to where their hive is located? A good experiment for hydroponics and the issue of pollinating is a decent size sphere, perhaps 50 ft in diameter, something large enough where bees could find it difficult to return to their hive and has a scale of efficacy for filtering water and air.
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  3. Oct 8, 2011 #2


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    I doubt bees could thrive in space as their waggle dance communication is dependent on the position of the sun and orientation in gravity. As for the rest of your post I would say no, animals like cats and dogs could not survive well on their own in freefall. A bigger issue though is the long term medical problems associated with living in such conditions.
  4. Oct 8, 2011 #3


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    Some related (albeit random) thoughts.

    Bees relate their position to the Sun - so if the Sun revolves around their world too fast, they will be lost (ignoring gravity problem). But if they were given a constant, artificial light, problem could disappear.

    I wonder what would happen to dogs raised in the zero gravity. While there is no doubt they have not evolved to live in such conditions, brain is pretty plastic when it comes to deal with handicaps (think three legged dogs, think people who lost their fingers and so on - in most cases when the loss is not too severe brain learns how to deal with the situation). Could be dogs that were trained by living in zero gravity would learn to deal with the situation quite effectively.

    And foremost... why do you think we need dogs for the colonization of space? :bugeye:
  5. Oct 8, 2011 #4


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    Although even with the constant source of light there would be problems, bees work out direction based on the angle of the sun in the sky. Without gravity there is no up or down so the angle would be different for different bees.

    Something I forgot to mention earlier is how mammalian development is affected by microgravity. IIRC there may be considerable problems.
  6. Oct 9, 2011 #5
    I don't know about bees but mammals can have a tough time living in zero gravity. Extended periods without exercise can lead to bone degeneration and muscle atrophy and that includes heart muscle. Sure like Borek said dogs can be trained or raised in a zero-g environment although I don't know if once trained they will continue to follow their exercise routine (Dog owners, any comments?). All this would not be necessary of course if the animals do not have to return to Earth.
  7. Oct 9, 2011 #6


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    Most of the dogs I have known could not survive on Earth without human assistance. They can't operate can openers :biggrin:. So I can't see how they'd survive in zero gravity without humans.

    Also, Borek's question is valid: why would we need dogs in space?
  8. Oct 9, 2011 #7


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    I doubt bees would have much of a navigation problem in any realistic zeroG scenario. Not a lot of ten-acre fields in space. Any area where they were set up to get pollen would be small enough that they would have the run of the whole area on one trip. No need for dances.
  9. Oct 10, 2011 #8
    Not to mention the issues with urinating and defecating........
  10. Oct 10, 2011 #9


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  11. Oct 14, 2011 #10
    We can hardly venture into the vastness of space without Man's Best Friend.

    More to the point, if you raised the humidity in the habitat to 100% would a fish be able to survive? Damp gills may be sufficient to absorb enough oxygen and I suspect they would have no trouble 'swimming' around. (Of course there are those worrying toilet habits to consider.)

    Or there is this option: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=pigs+in+space&qpvt=pigs+in+space&FORM=VDRE#"
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
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