Weekly News Bites: Eyeless eels, a space station relay, and muscular legs

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a species of eel that is slowly losing its eyes, a new space mission to give astronauts aboard the Tiangong space station a break, and how having more muscular legs can help avoid heart failure.

A new species of eel has been discovered in underwater caves which are landlocked but have an underground connection to the ocean. This eel is special as it lives in near-total darkness so it has started getting rid of its eyes. Researchers from National Sun Yat-sen University caught some specimens and found that some had small eyes, some had one eye, and some had none.

China has successfully launched the Shenzhou 16 mission crew into space to live aboard the Tiangong space station. Two members of the three-member team will go into orbit for the first time, accompanied by an experienced member who is on their third mission. The Shenzhou 16 team will take over from the previous crew and stay on the space station for six months. 

Muscular legs can help recovery after a heart attack, suggests research by Kitasato University School of Allied Health Sciences. After a heart attack, fibrous tissue can build up which can lead to dangerous effects such as an enlargement of the heart. Myokines (small proteins) released by muscles may help prevent heart failure, though the mechanism is unclear. 

A wooden satellite sounds like something out of a storybook but it is not an impossible task, says a new press release from Kyoto University. Using wood as a material could enable the production of disposable and eco-friendly satellites as the materials are renewable and will burn up completely upon reentry.