Butterflies in Space


Students can replicate Space Station experiment in the classroom

The Butterflies in Space Teacher's Guide uses "life in space" to encourage students to conduct their own open-ended scientific investigations. The guide provides information about the Butterflies in Space experiment conducted aboard the International Space Station and instructions on how to build a habitat and conduct open-ended experiments in the classroom.

Classes can replicate the space experiment and use archived video and photos from the habitat on the ISS to compare the growth and behavior of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) larvae and butterflies in their ground-based habitats with those that lived in space.

Listen to the Butterflies in Space podcast.
Learn about the Butterflies in Space Habitat "How-To" Video.

Download the Butterflies in Space Teacher's Guide at BioEd Online.

About the Butterflies in Space Project
Painted Lady butterfly larvae launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on Nov. 16, 2009, to begin a journey to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of an education experiment funded by NSBRI. The larvae successfully fed, grew, formed chrysalises and emerged as adult butterflies. The first chrysalis formed on Nov. 24, and the first butterflies emerged on Nov. 30. The historic space experiment concluded on Dec. 10, when the butterflies completed their life cycles. However, photos and videos from the mission have been archived, allowing classrooms to repeat the experiment in the coming years.

The project was conducted by NSBRI in partnership with BioServe Space Technologies, Baylor College of Medicine, Orion's Quest, The Butterfly Pavilion, Challenger Learning Center of Colorado and the NASA Office of the Chief Scientist. Additional support was provided by Houston Endowment Inc., and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.