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

Well, a few microscopic parts of it are.

Geologist Bill Simpson cleans Sue, a 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex on display at Chicago's Field Museum, on Nov. 12, 2013.
National Journal
Marina Koren
April 14, 2014, 8:39 a.m.

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. [Up­date: SpaceX’s launch has been post­poned un­til Fri­day due to a he­li­um leak aboard Fal­con 9.]

The launch from Flor­ida’s Cape Canaver­al is sched­uled for 4:58 p.m. EST. Live cov­er­age be­gins here at 3:45 p.m.

Sue’s mi­crobes are joined by 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.

What We're Following See More »
LEGACY PLAY
Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
7 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

DIRECT APPEAL TO MINORITIES, WOMEN
Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
7 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.

THE QUESTION
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
15 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

Source:
WEEKEND DATA DUMP
State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Source:
×