In a project known as Butterflies in Space, the Atlantis space shuttle will next week carry a butterfly habitat containing monarch and painted lady adults and larvae to the International Space Station.
The idea is that thousands of schoolkids across the US will be able to study the effects of space travel on the little astronauts, comparing them with examples reared in their own classroms. The children will be able to monitor their progress via still and video images.
"One of the most exciting things about this project is that we can use the International Space Station to bring spaceflight experiments into classrooms around the country," said BioServe Director Louis Stodieck, principal investigator on the project. "Our continuing goal is to inspire K-12 students around the country in science, technology, engineering and math."
The butterfly payload has been designed and built by BioServe Space Technologies in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering department and will carry two butterfly habitats containing monarch and painted lady butterfly larvae and enough nectar and other food to support them as they develop.
You can watch their progress here.