JERUSALEM (Jul. 18)
A hornets nest will be Israel’s contribution to a scientific investigation aboard an American space flight later this year, Science Minister Yuval Neeman announced today. It will be the first time an Israeli medical and scientific experiment will be conducted on a U.S. space vehicle at U.S. expense, he said.
Neeman said the purpose of the mission is to advan research into the human middle ear and its effect on balance. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have learned that a species of hornet prevelant in Israel has a tiny organ which enables the insects to maintain balance. The organ will be analyzed under conditions of zero gravity in space and the findings may advance knowledge about the human balancing mechanism believed to reside in the middle ear.
Neeman said final approval of the Israeli experiment was received this week from Mission Control in Houston. According to Neeman, American efforts to study hornets in space have failed to date because the hornets died. “Let us hope our hornets survive the experience,” he said.