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Two Painted Lady butterflies cling to their experiment container shortly after emerging from their chrysalises on Tuesday. ((BioEd Online))

Two butterflies are trying to get their bearings in near zero gravity after emerging on the International Space Station, the first time butterflies have survived the pupal stage in orbit.

The Painted Lady butterflies emerged Tuesday from their chrysalises inside an experiment container aboard the station. They went into orbit as six-day-old caterpillars aboard Atlantis last month.

Although other insects, such as fruit flies, have emerged as adults from their pupal stage while in orbit, these are the first butterflies to do so.

The experiment is a partnership between the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the University of Colorado and Baylor College of Medicine. Students will be able to compare the development of the orbiting butterflies with others on Earth.