Space exploration is a funny old business. Since early humans gazed up at the sky, we’ve dreamed of exploring its awe-inspiring vastness. From the discovery of Haley’s Comet, to the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 (one of the most watched televised reports in the history of television), we are constantly looking up at the stars, wondering why we’re here and what’s out there.
As remarkable as the people at NASA are – experts in their field no doubt – they do sometimes have a strange habit of sending the most…unusual items into space. Here we’ve gathered fifteen of the most bizarre things sent into orbit. We would like to question NASA about their motives behind some of these, but then we remember that we’re not the experts here. We’re just going to have to roll with it.
Yes, like most of you, we also thought that this was some botanical experiment to see the effects of plant life in outer space or how radiation can do…something or…whatever. Yeah, we’re just running with it. But no, as it turns out, this is actually an art project from Japanese artist Azumo Makoto.
As well as a bonsai tree, Makoto (along with NASA) sent up some orchids, lilies, irises and hydrangeas into the cold recesses of space. Why did they do it, we all collectively ask? For no reason other than to see what they would look like in zero gravity. It may seem a tad extreme and some of you may feel like this is time and resources that could be spent seeking out alien life form, but you have to admit it does look pretty. And if we do happen upon any extraterrestrial life, we have gifts to offer them.
This was something that was sent up not once, but twice. Yes, two separate shuttles carried with them samples of salmonella to be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS). Okay, we can kind of see what the thinking behind this was. Sending microbes and germs into space is usually done to see what the effects are in the hope of advancing our knowledge of medicine and doing the greater good for all of our species. Go science!
But then you realize the somewhat dark results that came from this. While trying to determine how low gravity would effect the bacteria, the study found it had actually become increasingly virulent. Nearly three times as virulent actually. Nice one guys. What was a seemingly harmful disease (but one we could ultimately cope with) has now become significantly more toxic. Which is good news for science, but bad news for the rest of us (and those poor lab mice). Boo science!