- Worms can survive and reproduce in space
- Worms found in rubbish tips share 20,000 genes with humans
- 'Survivors' of mission returned healthy
Earthling: The tiny Caenorhabditis elegans soilworm is helping scientists to understand how humans could respond the rigours of inter-planetary space-flight
The team from the University of Nottingham carried out the research partly to understand how astronauts would be affected by extended journeys, such as a two-year trip to Mars.
A type of tiny worm found in rubbish tips – Caenorhabditis elegans – was deployed for the 200-mile journey because it shares more than 20,000 genes with humans and its muscles and central nervous system work in a similar way.