London, September 10 (ANI): As part of research into the conditions endured by astronauts in space, NASA-backed scientists have successfully levitated mice with the help of magnets.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the mice were made to float using a superconducting magnet that produces a field strong enough to rival the pull of gravity.
After initial tests on baby mice left them frantically spinning in the air, the scientists decided to sedate the rodents to make their weightless ordeals less disturbing.
Describing the first test on a three-week-old baby mouse, researcher Yuanming Liu of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said, "It actually kicked around and started to spin. Without friction, it could spin faster and faster, and we think that made it even more disoriented."
The experiments were carried out in a specially-designed plastic cage, which was open at the top for ventilation and to insert food and water.
The researchers, who were working on behalf of NASA and are now seeking more funding, hope their tests will shed light on the physical impact of zero gravity conditions.
Astronauts are known to suffer from reduced bone density during lengthy space missions.
"If we can contribute to the future human exploration of space, that would be very exciting," said Liu.
Scientists have previously managed to levitate frogs and grasshoppers, but mice are more useful test subjects because their physiology is closer to humans. (ANI)