NASA is sending a batch of adorable squids to the space station

Early next month, NASA will load a bunch of scientific experiments onto a cargo capsule destined for the International Space Station. One of these experiments involves a bunch of tiny, adorable squids. According to the space agency, the critters will be part of an experiment on the effects of spaceflight on beneficial microbes and their interactions with their hosts.

The next ISS cargo supply run will be conducted by SpaceX on June 3. In addition to shipping supplies that astronauts need to continue living on the space station, these cargo runs are also used to send scientific experiments that are designed to take place in space. One such space study is Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions (UMAMI).

Microbes play a vital role in life, including helping humans remain healthy. NASA wants to understand what effect, if any, spaceflight has on these beneficial microbes and how that may impact the role they play in helping sustain life. To do this, the space agency is shipping a batch of squid on the upcoming 22nd cargo run.

By studying the effects of spaceflight on microbe interactions, NASA says it will be able to develop 'protective measures' to help ensure the long-term health of its astronauts as they head deeper into space. The research may also shed light on the interactions between microbes and animals that could help improve and protect such relationships on Earth.

The resupply run will include other scientific experiments, as well, including water bears, a portable ultrasound device called Butterfly IQ Ultrasound, the ESA's Pilote, a kidney cell model to evaluate kidney stone formation in space, a study involving cotton, and more.