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University of California Davis Experiment Launches with NASA Cargo to Space
April 29, 2014

When Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) launched NASA's third contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station April 18, an experiment designed by University of California, Davis, was among the cargo headed to space.

The experiment, NanoRacks-Comparison of the Growth Rate and DNA Characterization of Microgravity Exposed Microbial Community Samples (NanoRacks-Project MERCCURI), compares the growth rates of microbes isolated from samples collected from ground-based public venues both in the microgravity environment of the space station and in the lab. This study also characterizes the microbial communities found on surfaces aboard the station using culture-independent methods.

U.S. company SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., launched its Dragon spacecraft atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 12:25 p.m. PDT.


SpaceX developed its Dragon capsule, the only cargo spacecraft currently servicing the space station with the capability to return cargo back to Earth, with NASA and now successfully has completed three missions to the orbiting outpost. Expedition 39 crew members captured the SpaceX-3 Dragon using the station's robotic arm at 7:06 a.m. April 20. The capsule is scheduled to remain attached to the station unit for 28 days. It then will return to Earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast California. It will return samples from scientific investigations currently underway aboard the space station.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has had continuous human occupation since November 2000. In that time it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about the SpaceX-3 mission and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

Text issued as Ames news release 14-032AR

Joshua Buck
Headquarters, Washington

Susan Anderson
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Andy Fell
University of California, Davis

Carole Gan
University of California, Davis

Co-investigator Darlene Cavalier sampling the Liberty Bell for microbes
Co-investigator Darlene Cavalier sampling the Liberty Bell for microbes as part of the International Space Station Project MERCCURI investigation.
Image Credit: 
National Park Service
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Sample of unclassified Spingomonadaceae
Sample of unclassified Spingomonadaceae from a stadium seat in Niedermeyer Field collected by the Pop Warner Coronado cheerleaders, San Diego, CA.
Image Credit: 
Alex Alexeiv/UC Davis
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Page Last Updated: April 29th, 2014
Page Editor: Rachel Hoover