Learn how to construct a butterfly habitat using inexpensive materials, obtain larvae, and feed and care for butterflies.
Butterflies in Space
A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) emerges from its pupa in its habitat aboard the ISS. It is the first butterfly ever to do so in microgravity.
Here's a great shot of a painted lady butterfly trying to fly without the aid of gravity. It gets a bit disoriented and bounces off a few wall before giving up and clinging to the wall. Exciting stuff!!
Time-lapse video of the painted lady butterfly while in orbit aboard the International Space Station. This video is a compilation of images captured of the habitat over a three-week period.
Ground-based: Larvae hatched 11/09/2009 (seven days old when STS-129 launched).
Daily photo updates from the STS-129 "Butterflies in Space" experiment.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly larvae in their habitat aboard the ISS, part of the 2008 pilot Butterflies and Spiders in Space project.
First look at a caterpillar's formation of a chrysalis for its metamorphosis into a butterfly.
Second part of a caterpillar's formation of a chrysalis for its metamorphosis into a butterfly.
A Painted Lady Butterfly emerging after its metamorphosis.
A look at the wings of a Painted Lady Butterfly and their colors.
With approximately 20,000 species on Earth, butterflies are among the world's most recognizable and popular insects. In 2009, four painted lady butterflies flew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS), where they grew and lived. Students can use original photos from the mission to conduct open-ended scientific investigations to learn how gravity and microgravity affect the life cycle of painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies.
Developed and conducted by the Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine, in collaboration with BioServe Space Technologies (University of Colorado), National Space Biomedical Research Institute, and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Investigation Information: Click Here
Painted Lady Butterflies in Space! On November 16, 2009, larvae that hatched six days earlier flew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis to the ISS. While in space, they were monitored continually, with photos and video transmitted hourly to the BCM and BioServe teams on Earth.
The larvae successfully fed, grew, formed chrysalises, and emerged as adult butterflies. The historic space experiment concluded on December 10, 2009, but photos and video from the mission remain available on BioEd Online (see below). We invite you and your students to perform butterfly investigations in your own classrooms and compare your Earth-based butterflies to those that lived on ISS. The free Butterflies in Space Teacher’s Guide provides instructions for setting up ground-based butterfly habitats and helping students to design their own experiments.
Developed and conducted in collaboration with BioServe Space Technologies of the University of Colorado, National Biomedical Research Institute, and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.
Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education; Opening Pathways for Teacher Instructional Opportunities in Natural Sciences
Science Education Leadership Fellows Program
Grant Numbers: 51006084, 51004102, 51000105