Just when you thought you’d heard it all, here comes the news that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has installed a fish tank on the International Space Station (ISS). But it’s not just to make the environment more relaxing, or add some decor to the lunch room, the aquarium is actually a real piece of experimental hardware that will be used to study how marine life is affected in space.
The Aquatic Habitat (AQH) was brought to the ISS last week on an unmanned cargo vessel, amid other equipment and supplies. The high-tech aquarium is specially designed to operate in a zero gravity environment, with as little maintenance from the crew as possible. They don’t even have to feed the fish! This isn’t the first time fish have been taken into space in a special aquarium, but it is the first to installed on a space station.
The life support system on the AQH automatically circulates water, removes waste, and feeds the fish. Oxygen levels and temperatures are monitored and adjusted to keep ideal conditions in the habitat. The system is designed to keep the fish alive and healthy for at least 90 days, says JAXA senior engineer Nobuyoshi Fujimoto, that way there is enough time egg breeding and hatching for up to three generations. This will be the first time for fish to be born in space! Those little fishies will have no idea just how amazing they really are.