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Aboard the SpaceX Dragon’s next resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will be 20 “unique” passengers — laboratory mice — poised to play a vital role in preparing humans to go to Mars. They’ll do so by being part of a study to help determine how space affects circadian rhythms and the microbiome.

“This rodent research mission — just NASA’s eighth since completion of the ISS and the rejuvenation of America’s space biology program — is analogous to the...