recommended reading

This 67-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Is Headed to Space

Bill Simpson, collections manager of fossil vertebrates at Chicago's Field Museum, dusts the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as Sue.

Bill Simpson, collections manager of fossil vertebrates at Chicago's Field Museum, dusts the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as Sue. // Kiichiro Sato/AP File Photo

Dinosaurs once ruled the Earth. Now, 67 million years later, one of them is leaving it.

Microorganisms from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil skeleton nicknamed Sue will be launched into space on Monday, headed for the International Space Station. The microbe paenibacillus mucilaginosus, now found in agriculture fertilizers, was collected from a swab from the surface of the dinosaur's bones. It will travel aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9, a rocket built by a private U.S. spaceflight company and supported by NASA.

The launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral was scheduled for 4:58 p.m. EST.

Sue's microbes were set to join 48 other kinds of microorganisms in their journey to outer space, a venture made possible by Project Mercurri, a nationwide effort led by Science Cheerleader, a group of current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing careers in science. The other microbes were collected from an amusingly diverse range of sources, including various U.S. sports stadiums, the Liberty Bell, a candy jar from the set of NBC's The Today Show, and one lucky toilet in California. Scientists plan to study their behavior in microgravity to better plan for long-term human space travel.

The rest of Sue resides in the Field Museum in Chicago. Her skeleton is the largest, most complete, and best preserved T. rex fossil ever found. It was discovered in South Dakota's Badlands National Park, a hot spot for dinosaur remains, in 1990.

When the 600-pound skeleton arrived at a New York City auction house seven years later, museum officials came ready to outbid their competitors. The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History was prepared to pay $2.5 million to bring the first T. rex to the nation's capital, but the Field Museum crushed its offer, securing Sue with a cool $8.3 million.

Almost 17 years after its loss to Chicago, the D.C. museum is finally getting its own T. rex, a 65-million-year-old fossil found in Montana, this week. But in a way, the Field Museum is still ahead. D.C.'s new dinosaur is only traveling cross-country. Sue, on the other hand, is leaving the Earth's atmosphere.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.