(WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.) — A commercial spaceflight blasted off Thursday from NASA’s beachside Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on a resupply mission to the International Space Station, carrying 2,780 pounds of cargo — including swarms of ants.
The social insects will be recorded in their living quarters at the International Space Station, according to NASA. Scientists and K-12 students will follow the experiment from Earth, hoping to glean information about the behavior of groups of ants in gravity and microgravity conditions.
NASA said the experiment could help cultivate “a better understanding of swarm intelligence,” which could lead to more refined mathematical procedures for solving complex problems, such as routing trucks and scheduling airlines, back on Earth.
Delayed by a day by a huge solar flare, the spacecraft is expected to arrive at the space station during the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 12.
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