Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) - 09.30.15

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) is an anodized-aluminum cylinder used to provide passive stowage for investigations studying the effects of space flight on small specimens.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by David R. Cox, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details


Facility Manager(s)
David R. Cox, Kennedy Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, FL, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Charles D. Quincy, Kennedy Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, FL, United States

NASA Kennedy Space Center, Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States
Bionetics Corporation, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ISS Expedition Duration 1
September 2000 - November 2000

Expeditions Assigned

Previous ISS Missions
The BRIC has been usedin various experiments during several space shuttle missions.


  • Retired/Returned/Disposed
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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • The Biological Research In Canisters (BRIC) hardware provides a storage container for investigations into the effects of space flight on small specimens.

    • A series of BRIC hardware was created to accommodate various specimens for investigations during space flight:
      • The BRIC 60-mm petri dish (BRIC-60) has both an upper and lower chamber. Four pressure relief vents in each chamber meet the rapid depressurization requirements for the space shuttle. These vents make a series of convoluted turns to maintain a light-tight environment inside the canister chamber.

      • The BRIC 100-mm petri dish (BRIC-100) cylinder has threaded lids on each end that allow passive gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide through a semipermeable membrane. The BRIC-100 is not a light-tight container.

      • The BRIC 100-mm petri dish vacuum containment (BRIC-100VC) is a completely sealed, anodized-aluminum cylinder. The top and bottom lids of the canister include quick disconnect valves for gas purging. Using these valves, a specific atmosphere can be sealed inside the canister, providing control of experimental conditions.

      • The BRIC light-emitting diodes (BRIC-LED) will provide one level of containment. LEDs placed inside the canister deliver a specified light wavelength and intensity to each petri dish within the canister.
    The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) is an anodized-aluminum cylinder used to provide passive stowage for investigations of the effects of space flight on small specimens. The BRICs have supported a variety of research on many space shuttle missions.
    • Specimens flown in the BRIC 60-mm petri dish (BRIC-60) include Lycoperscion esculentum (tomato), Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress), and Glycine max (soybean) seedlings; Physarum polycephalum (slime mold) cells; Pothetria dispar (gypsy moth) eggs; and Ceratodon (moss).

    • Specimens flown in the BRIC 100-mm petri dish (BRIC-100) include Manduca sexta (tobacco hornworm) pupae and Hemerocallis (daylily) and Dactylis glomerta L. (orchard grass) embryos.

    • The BRIC 100-mm petri dish vacuum containment (BRIC-100VC) has carried one specimen, Hemerocallis (daylily) cells, in agar for 4.5 months.

    • The BRIC light-emitting diodes (BRIC-LED) has carried only one specimen of Ceratodon (moss).
    Each BRIC is uniquely configured to accommodate a variety of experiments. The configuration of each BRIC is as follows:
    • The BRIC-60 can hold a maximum of twelve 60-mm petri dishes (a total of twenty-four per full canister), or thirteen Teflon® tubes (a total of twenty-six per full canister) can be placed inside each canister chamber. The physical dimensions are 6.25 inches (height) x 10.25 inches (outside diameter). The total weight of the BRIC-60 is 1.9 lb. No power is required. Up to five full canisters can be flown in ambient Orbiter middeck conditions in a standard middeck locker. Up to five half-BRIC canisters will fit inside the gaseous nitrogen (GN2) freezer.

    • The BRIC-100 can accommodate nine polycarbonate 100-mm petri plates. The outside dimensions of the BRIC-100 canister are 15 inches (height) x 14.25 inches (outside diameter). The bottom and top lids of each canister have twenty-five 0.5-mm holes and a Teflon® membrane (pore size 0.5 micrometers). Two septa are located in the lid to allow gas sampling. Underneath this lid, the semipermeable membrane is attached and supported by an anodized-aluminum ring. The ring and membrane assembly are supported by five stainless-steel screws. If gas exchange is not required, the semipermeable membrane and capture ring can be replaced by an aluminum capture plate to provide a closed experimental environment. The petri plates inside the canister are held in place by a petri dish cage insert. The cage insert is manufactured from 304 stainless steel and contains glide rivets made from acetal. The rack provides both vibration isolation from the other dishes and the canister and air space between each petri dish. The BRIC-100 canisters are flown in sets of three, and a standard Orbiter middeck locker can accommodate up to six BRIC-100 canisters.

    • The BRIC-100VC canister can accommodate standard 100-mm laboratory petri plates. The outside dimensions of the BRIC-100VC canisters are 6.27 inches (height) x 14 inches (outside diameter). The BRIC-100VC canister provides containment and structural support for the specimens and their hardware. The lid of the canister uses a toggle switch and O-ring assembly that allows quick sealing and removal of the lid. The bottom of the canister has sufficient storage space for passive temperature and relative humidity recorders. The canisters are flown in sets of 9, and a standard Orbiter middeck locker can accommodate up to 18.

    • The BRIC-LED can use a complement set of hardware, the Petri Dish Fixation Unit (PDFU). The PDFU is a specialized holder for a standard 60-mm petri dish, which delivers fixative to the sample in the petri dish. The PDFU is inserted into the BRIC-LED. Each BRIC-LED can house six PDFUs. The physical dimensions are 6.8 inches (length) x 3.5 inches (width) x 3.75 inches (height). Total weight is 4 lb. Electrical requirements are 6 watts. The lid of each BRIC-LED is secured using 10 screws and includes a silicone gasket to provide a seal between the lid and the base. The lid of the BRIC-LED also has six holes for insertion of a PDFU actuator attachment that allows fixation of the specimens. Each of the holes is sealed using a silicone septum. The lid of each BRIC-LED also houses a circuit board that contains red surface-mount LEDs (six per BRIC) for illuminating specimens, switches (six per BRIC) for controlling the on-off status of red LEDs, and green surface-mount LEDs (six per BRIC) for verifying the on-off status of the red LEDs. Each red LED is located on the bottom of the circuit board, with a corresponding green LED located on top of the lid. The green LEDs provide the crew with a method of verifying red LED illumination and operations. Each red LED provides a wavelength of 640 to 660 nm red light to the samples located inside the canister via a Pyrex light pipe. The switches are located on the top of the circuit board to switch the LEDs on or off at the appropriate time. An additional orange LED is located on top of the circuit board to indicate that power is being properly supplied to the canister’s circuitry. A custom stowage tray is used to house the BRIC-LED canisters and power distribution box. The tray is made of anodized aluminum and contains a power connector to allow Orbiter power connection to the locker before flight. An enclosed fan prevents samples from reaching extreme temperatures.
    The Biological Research In Canisters (BRIC) is passively stowed on the International Space Station (ISS); the BRIC must be transferred from ISS stowage to the Minus-Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) or other stowage based on experiment objectives.

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    Facility Operations

    • The Biological Research In Canisters (BRIC) is a passive experiment container.

    • Minimal BRIC operations include transferring the BRIC from International Space Station (ISS) stowage to the Minus-Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) or other stowage as required by individual investigation requirements.

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    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

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    Results/More Information

    Results Publications

      Schultz ER, Zupanska AK, Manning-Roach S, Camacho J, Levine HG, Paul A, Ferl RJ.  Testing the Bio-compatibility of Aluminum PDFU BRIC Hardware. Gravitational and Space Biology. 2012 October; 26(2): 48-63.

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

      Hilaire EM, Peterson BV, Guikema JA, Brown C.  Clinorotation Affects Morphology and Ethylene Production in Soybean Seedlings. Plant and Cell Physiology. 1996; 37(7): 929-934.

      Kern VD, Schwuchow JM, Reed DW, Nadeau JA, Lucas J, Skripnikov A, Sack FD.  Gravitropic moss cells default to spiral growth on the clinostat and in microgravity during spaceflight. Planta. 2005; 221: 149-157. DOI: 10.1007/s00425-004-1467-3.

      Krikorian AD.  Minimal Growth Maintenance of Cell Cultures: A Perspective on Management for Extended Duration Experimentation in the Microgravity Environment of a Space Station. The Botanical Review. 1996; 62(1): 41-108.

      Brown C, Hilaire EM, Guikema JA, Piastuch WC, Johnson CF, Stryjewski EC, Peterson BV, Vordermark DS.  Metabolism, ultrastructure and growth of soybean seedlings in microgravity: results from the BRIC-01 and BRIC-03 experiments. Gravitational and Space Biology. 1995; 9: 93.

      Levine HG, Sharek JA, Johnson KM, Stryjewski EC, Prima VI, Martynenko OI, Piastuch WC.  Growth Protocols for Etiolated Soybeans Germinated within BRIC-60 Canisters Under Spaceflight Conditions. Advances in Space Research. 2003; 26(2): 311-314.

      Conger BV, Tomaszewski Z, McDaniel JK, Vasilenko A.  Spaceflight reduces somatic embryogenesis in orchard grass (Poaceae). Plant, Cell and Environment. 2002; 21(11): 1197-203.

      Link BM, Cosgrove DJ.  Analysis of peg formation in cucumber seedlings grown on clinostats and in a microgravity (space) environment. Journal of Plant Research. 1999; 112(4): 507-516. DOI: 10.1007/PL00013907.

      Krikorian AD.  Space stress and genome shock in developing plant cells. Physiologia Plantarum. 1996; 98: 901-908.

      Hilaire EM, Paulsen AQ, Brown C, Guikema JA.  Plastid Distribution in Columella Cells of a Starchless Arabidopsis Mutant Grown in Microgravity. Plant and Cell Physiology. 1997; 38(4): 490-494.

      Salmi ML, Roux SJ.  Gene expression changes induced by space flight in single-cells of the fern Ceratopteris richardii. Planta. 2008; 229: 151-159. DOI: 10.1007/s00425-008-0817-y.

      Paul A, Zupanska AK, Ostrow DT, Zhang Y, Sun Y, Li J, Shanker S, Farmerie WG, Amalfitano CE, Ferl RJ.  Spaceflight Transcriptomes: Unique Responses to a Novel Environment. Astrobiology. 2012 Jan; 12(1): 40-56. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2011.0696.

      Paul A, Zupanska AK, Schultz ER, Ferl RJ.  Organ-specific remodeling of the Arabidopsis transcriptome in response to spaceflight. BMC Plant Biology. 2013 August 7; 13(1): 112. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-13-112. PMID: 23919896.

      Levine HG, Krikorian AD.  Changes in plant medium composition after a spaceflight experiment: Potassium levels are of special interest. Advances in Space Research. 2008; 42: 1060-1065. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2008.03.019.

      Kuznetsov OA, Brown C, Levine HG, Piastuch WC, Sanwo-Lewandowski MM, Hasenstein KH.  Composition and Physical Properties of Starch in Microgravity-Grown Plants. Advances in Space Research. 2001; 28(4): 651-658.

      Paul A, Amalfitano CE, Ferl RJ.  Plant growth strategies are remodeled by spaceflight. BMC Plant Biology. 2012; 12(1): 232. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-12-232. PMID: 23217113.

      Kern VD, Sack FD.  Effects of Spaceflight (STS-87) on Tropisms and Plastid Positioning in Protonemata of the Moss Ceratodon Purpureus. Advances in Space Research. 2001; 27(5): 941-949.

      Levine HG, Anderson K, Krikorian AD.  The 'Gaseous' Environment in Sealed BRIC-100VC Canisters Flown on 'Mir' with Embryogenic Daylily Cell Cultures. Advances in Space Research. 2000; 26(2): 307-310.

      Zupanska AK, Denison FD, Ferl RJ, Paul A.  Spaceflight engages heat shock protein and other molecular chaperone genes in tissue culture cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. American Journal of Botany. 2013; 100(1): 235-248. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1200343. PMID: 23258370.

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    Related Websites

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    image BRIC-60 with Teflon® sample tubes. Image courtesy of
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    image BRIC-60 in its half-middeck flight configuration. Image courtesy of
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    image BRIC-100 with petri rack. Image courtesy of
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    image BRIC-100VC with petri rack. Image courtesy of
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    image BRIC-LED. Image courtesy of
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