Clarification of the criteria for managing animal health is essential to increase the reliability of experiments and ensure transparency in animal welfare. For experiments performed in space, there is no consensus on how to care for animals owing to technical issues, launch mass limitation, and human resources. Some biological processes in mammals, such as musculoskeletal or immune processes, are altered in the space environment, and mice in space can be used to simulate morbid states, such as senescence acceleration. Thus, there is a need to establish a novel evaluation method and evaluation criteria to monitor animal health. Here, we report a novel method to evaluate the health of mice in space through a video downlink in a series of space experiments using the Multiple Artificial-gravity Research System (MARS). This method was found to be more useful in evaluating animal health in space than observations and body weight changes of the same live mice following their return to Earth. We also developed criteria to evaluate health status via a video downlink. These criteria, with “Fur condition” and “Respiratory” as key items, provided information on the daily changes in the health status of mice and helped to identify malfunctions at an early stage. Our method and criteria led to the success of our missions, and they will help establish appropriate rules for space experiments in the future.
- International Space Station (ISS) rodent mission
- Space flight
- health monitoring method