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Feb. 10, 2003

John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-5026 or 650/604-9000

Pamela Corante
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
Phone: 310/206-8788



To help develop new, compact devices and systems for future aerospace systems, NASA and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) today opened a research institute that will use biology to inspire innovation.

Scientists at the new institute, the Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration (ICMSE), will mimic living cells to help develop new technologies. Presentations about the new institute will take place today beginning at 9:30 a.m. PST and continue until 6 p.m. PST in the Grand Ballroom of the Tom Bradley International Hall on the UCLA campus.

“Using nature to help us develop fresh ideas for better space flight is an idea whose time has come,” said Scott Hubbard, director of NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “I am delighted that NASA will be working with such a wide variety of university scientists and students from a number of disciplines to help enable future space exploration,” Hubbard added.

"Biological systems have acquired an amazing ability to manage information on multiple levels - organizing themselves into increasingly complex structures, from tissues to organs to complex human biological systems," said Chih-Ming Ho, associate vice chancellor for research and ICMSE director. "Our strategy is to mimic the cell's information-processing abilities to establish a model for space system design that will redefine space exploration technology," Ho said.

“For future developments in sensors, devices and systems for mission needs, NASA is looking to biology for inspiration. That is what the UCLA institute is all about,” said Meyya Meyyappan, director of the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA Ames. “The UCLA scientists will look at the fusion of biotechnology with an emerging field like nanotechnology and an established field like information technology," according to Meyyappan.

Nanotechnology is the study of how to build materials and products with atomic precision. A nanometer is roughly 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

The institute includes UCLA engineering, medical, physical and life sciences researchers as well as scientists from the California Institute of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Arizona State University. In addition, UCLA graduate and undergraduate students will be involved in the institute’s work.

The institute will conduct research that could lead to devices on the molecular scale, but also will deal with entire aerospace systems. Institute goals include creating nano and micro scale sensors, actuators and energy sources; writing computer codes; and developing technologies for biological experiments, astronaut health monitoring and spacecraft resource management.

Energy production systems that the institute may develop could offer “dramatic gains in power, lifetime and efficiency in nanometer-sized spaces,” according to institute scientists.

Technical information about NASA nanotechnology can be found on the World Wide Web at:

More information about the new institution can be found at:



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