Among the hundreds of scientific tests happening on the International Space Station, only one has yielded a result worthy of a B-movie starring Ice Cube. It turns out that flatworms undergo an odd and as-yet-unexplained transformation in space. When profoundly injured, they grow a second head.Scientists who study tissue regeneration have long been fascinated by flatworms because of the worms’ ability to regrow after being cut in half. The worms can even regrow heads. But as Tufts University biology researcher Junji Morokuma and his colleagues explain in a paper for the journal Regeneration, they have never seen a worm grow two heads after amputation. But that’s just what happened when an amputated flatworm was sent to the ISS back in January 2015.Delivered to the ISS via SpaceX Commercial Resupply Service Mission 5, the two-header was just one of several flatworms kept aboard for a five-week experiment. Some were whole, and others were amputated. The point, as Tufts University biologist Michael Levin put it in a release, was to study how the environment would affect tissue regeneration.”During regeneration, development, and cancer suppression, body patterning is subject to the influence of physical forces, such as electric fields, magnetic fields, electromagnetic fields, and other biophysical factors,” he explained.
When flatworms go to space, they grow two heads | Ars Technica