Ants from Spruce Pine Part of Experiment on International Space Station
Some 800 ants collected from Spruce Pine’s Riverside Park are on their way to the international Space Station. The “pavement ants”, a species that is found all over the world, were collected for a team of scientists from NC State University who are researching how ants deal with changes in climate. Unable to find enough ants for the project in Raleigh, researcher Clint Penick was in Spruce Pine and discovered a large colony of the heat tolerant ants on a trip to the park. He captured more than 1000 ants for his research. After Penick and his team finished their research in December the ants blasted off on January 9th on an Antares rocket as part of 3,000 pounds of supplies bound for the Space Station. The space ants will now be part of an experiment conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder to see how ants adjust their behavior with near-zero gravity conditions, to help scientists develop smarter robots.