NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ISS Bio-Medical Experiments (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ) - 10.14.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone
The NanoRacks–Mission Discovery ISS Bio-Medical Experiments (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery) contain investigations designed by winners of the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET)/King’s College London Mission Discovery 2012 competition. The first-place winner studies whether the antibiotic Ampicillin inhibits the growth of E. coli. bacteria. The second-place winner examines slime mold growing in Petri dishes to determine if it can grow three-dimensionally on the International Space Station.
Science Results for Everyone
OpNom NanoRacks Module-38
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Laboratory (NL)
ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - September 2014
Previous ISS Missions
- The first experiment aims to test whether or not antibiotics are as effective in space as they are on earth, and provides important information about the effectiveness of drugs that may potentially be used to treat astronauts in a microgravity environment.
- In the experiment, the antibiotic ‘Ampicillin’ is tested for its ability to inhibit the growth of the harmful bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), although the strain being used in this experiment is harmless.
- Bacteria seem to thrive in microgravity, whereas drugs to battle them have been proven to be less effective. E. coli is one of the most likely bacteria to grow during space travel. This experiment therefore has a potential impact on our understanding of astronaut health.
- The second experiment examines whether slime mold grows three-dimensionally in space due to the lack of gravity and provides important knowledge regarding the nature of growth of microorganisms in space.
- The experiment determines whether slime mold grows three-dimensionally in microgravity. On Earth slime mold has spatial memory, and can even solve mazes by avoiding its own trails, but it only grows two-dimensionally.
This research impacts upon our knowledge of the environment in space. Studying microbial creatures in space is only recently being recognized as a valuable pursuit. Russia’s Mir space station was found to house whole colonies of organisms, growing on places like space suit hardware and on cable insulations and tubing, so they realized that it was possible for such creatures to thrive in microgravity. China and Japan are also recognizing the value of these studies, with students in Japan readying a satellite to grow the mold specifically in orbit to observe its reactions.
The NanoRacks–Mission Discovery ISS Bio-Medical Experiments (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery) are comprised of the winners of the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET)/King’s College London Mission Discovery 2012 competition. Experiment 1 investigates the effectiveness of the antibiotic Ampicillin to inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli (E.coli). Experiment 2 examines slime mold and determines which dimensions it is able to grow in on the International Space Station.
Experiment 1: Lysogeny broth (LB) agar plates are spread with 50 μl of E. coli DH5alpha (OD600 of 1.0 – 1.4), then antibiotic-loaded disks (1 cm filter papers) are aseptically added at 3 different concentrations (12.5 μl of 10, 5 and 2 mg/ml ampicillin in water), just prior to packaging in the NanoRack for cold-stow. Antibiotic concentrations are randomized across 3 different plates. The aim of the experiment is then to determine the size of the zone of inhibition caused by the ampicillin in microgravity as opposed to an earth-based environment. Earth controls have also been simultaneously produced.
Experiment 2: Oat agar plates are loaded with approximately 10 mg of freeze-dried Physarum polycephalum (slime mold) sclerotia prior to cold-stow. Three different petri dishes containing different volumes (10, 15 and 20 mL) of oat agar are used. All plates have lids loaded with globules of oat agar to encourage three-dimensional growth of the slime mold. The aim of the experiment is then to determine whether the slime mold moves/grows across the plates two-dimensionally or whether it moves/grows three-dimensionally towards the lid. As with experiment 1, earth controls have simultaneously been produced.
When they leave Earth, space travelers carry millions of stowaways in the form of microbes. Both experiments improve knowledge of how microorganisms grow in space and whether drugs effectively fight them, both of which are important for maintaining crew health on future missions. The first experiment tests whether antibiotics are as effective in microgravity as they are on Earth, and provides data that can be used to decide which drugs should be used to treat crew member infections. The second experiment studies whether slime mold can grow in three dimensions, rather than horizontally as it does on Earth.
By studying whether E. coli becomes more virulent in response to a changed environment, specifically microgravity, researchers can learn more about how the bacteria causes disease and which external stimuli affect its behavior. Data from this experiment can shed light on how E. coli functions on Earth, and could improve research for new drugs or treatments. In addition, the investigation is a student competition designed to stimulate interest in the space program and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Remove from cold-stow transport to thaw and stow the Module at ambient conditions. Stow for a period of days to be determined per investigation. Conduct a NanoRacks Microscope-2 session for each investigation’s Petri dish at the end of the growth period, with microscope photos and downlinked by the EXPRESS Laptop per standard NanoRacks Microscope-2 procedures. Discard NanoRacks Module-38 and Petri dishes once experiment ends. Payload Developer receives all photos.
Remove NanoRacks Module-38 from cold-stowage per standard ops. Stow the Module in ambient conditions inside NanoRacks Platform-1 during Petri sample growth period (time span will be sample/investigation-specific). Destow NanoRacks Module-38 and NanoRacks Microscope-2 from the NanoRacks Platform-1. Take the Petri dish samples out of the module; take and downlink photos of each per standard NanoRacks Microscope-2 procedures. Dispose of NanoRacks Module-38 and Petri dish samples.
ISSET - Mission Discovery
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Team members with staff from King’s College London, preparing their experiments for the NanoRacks–Mission Discovery ISS Bio-Medical Experiments (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery) investigation. Image courtesy of International Space School Educational Trust.
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NanoRacks–Mission Discovery ISS Bio-Medical Experiments (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery) slime mold ground experiment images taken directly above and below the plates. Image courtesy of International Space School Educational Trust.
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