They're not just about moon bombing anymore.
photo credits: Lymantria; NASA, via Wikimedia Commons
CIENTISTS with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's space exploration program have confirmed that a rambunctious little gerbil name Ruthie is the first rodent to have been successfully launched into earth's orbit by means of a simple household salad spinner and "the ingenious application of some pretty impressive calculations."
A NASA spokeswoman briefed the press this morning with the startling news, but hastened to add that Americans "should please not try to launch their gerbils into orbit" because the salad spinners alone would not be sufficient to produce the necessary acceleration and lift.
"About all you'll get for your trouble is a dizzy, freaked-out gerbil," claimed the spokeswoman, who went on to say that there was no reason Americans "should risk spoiling a perfectly good salad spinner because your gerbil lost its kibble."
NASA's salad-spinner feat comes at a time when the agency is facing potentially harsh budget cuts to its more expensive space missions.
"Our need to do more with less is the driving force behind getting Ruthie into space," said NASA's spokeswoman. "And right this minute, Ruthie's gerbil cam is sending back reams of data."
Although the spokeswoman was pressed to admit that the data was nothing an orbiting satellite doesn't already transmit back to earth every day, she stressed that Ruthie's data "comes with cute little gerbil noises," adding, "I don't think you can put a price tag on adorable."
Ruthie is expected to re-enter the earth's atmosphere in about 16 hours and will splash down "somewhere in the Atlantic," said NASA's spokeswoman, who conjectured that a successful gerbil mission may pave the way for development of a human-scale salad spinner.
"It might look like one of those centrifugal rides at the fair," she said, "but when it's done you'll be orbiting the earth instead of buying cotton candy."
© 10.15.09 Kate Heidel