Butterfly, Painted Lady, STS-93

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This object is on display in the Space Science at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Space Science

This Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui) butterfly is one of several that emerged from cocoons aboard the space shuttle Columbia during the STS-93 mission in July 1999. They were the subject of an experiment developed by a group of high school students and their instructors to investigate how weightlessness affects the life cycle of butterflies. In an environmentally-controlled habitat container on the shuttle, caterpillars formed cocoons and butterflies emerged successfully, showing that metamorphosis can occur in space without the influence of gravity. The project team donated these first space butterflies to the Museum. The project was sponsored by SPACEHAB, Inc. to encourage student research in space science and technology.