NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Orion (SSEP Mission 4) (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Orion ) - 07.19.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Orion (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Orion) investigation stems from a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education program called the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Student teams across the United States design and build their own experiments using flight-approved fluids and other materials. The investigation includes 11 different science experiments that are flown in a NanoRacks module aboard the International Space Station.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Jeff Goldstein, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Module-9 S/N 1008, 1011

Principal Investigator(s)
Jeff Goldstein, Ph.D., National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, Ellicott City, MD, United States

Information Pending

NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, Ellicott City, MD, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - March 2014

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Orion (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Orion) is the sixth flight opportunity associated with the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP), an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC
  • Eleven experiments are selected from 744 student team proposals, engaging 3,080 grade 5-12 students in microgravity experiment design.
  • SSEP allows student teams to design an experiment with real constraints imposed by the experimental apparatus and the environmental restrictions of microgravity.
  • Students complete proposals for a flight opportunity, experience a science proposal review process, complete a flight safety review, and attend their own science conference.
  • NanoRacks-NCESSE-Orion is also part of the NanoRacks DreamUP! Program, which aims to stimulate commercial student participation in low-earth orbit projects.


The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), launched by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC, is an extraordinary commercial U.S. national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative that to date has provided students across the United States—middle and high school students (grades 5-12), and/or undergraduates at 2-year community colleges (grades 13-14)—the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station (ISS).
Since program inception in June 2010, there have been six SSEP flight opportunities—SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, which were the final flights of Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 4 to ISS. To date, 60 communities have participated in the program, with over 100,000 grade K-14 students across 540 schools given the opportunity to participate in their community-wide experience. A total of 21,600 grade 5-14 students were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, and 5,091 experiment proposals were submitted by student teams. To date, 14 communities have participated in 2, 3, or 4 flight opportunities, reflecting the sustainable nature of the program.
NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Orion (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Orion) includes the following 11 student experiments on Orbital-1:
Lactobacillus Bacteria Growth in Microgravity
Ralph Pfluger Elementary School, Grade 5, Buda, Texas

This investigation tests lactobacillus bacteria growth in microgravity. A lactobacillus bacterium is a probiotic bacterium that is important for bone strength and intestinal health in humans. People get probiotic bacteria from yogurt and other dairy products. The body produces these bacteria in the intestinal tract, but the amount produced is not enough to keep you healthy. If humans eventually colonize space or another planet, they will need ways to stay healthy. A Probiotic bacterium is one way to keep the body strong and healthy. Because of the importance of these bacteria to the human body, this experiment determines if microgravity has any effect on its growth. (NRP-10009-7, S/N 1008)

The Effect of Microgravity on the Development of the Spotted Salamander
Avicenna Academy, Grades 6 and 8, Crown Point, Indiana
This experiment tests the effect of microgravity on the development of a Spotted Salamander. Gravity plays an important role in the development process. Gaining knowledge on this experiment, may lead to further exploration of other living organisms’ development, such as humans, in microgravity. For this experiment, ten fertilized, spotted salamander eggs are sent to the ISS where they begin to grow and develop. Before the salamanders leave the ISS formaldehyde is mixed with the salamanders to stop the growth. When they return to Earth, they are observed for any abnormalities and compared to the spotted salamanders on Earth. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1008)
Effect of Microgravity in Structure of the Fungus Flammulina velutipes
The Bronx High School of Science, Grade 10, New York City, New York
There are four fundamental forces that influence the entire universe, the most adverse and mysterious being gravitation. Gravity is a nearly constant force on the surface of the Earth; fractional levels can be obtained in orbital environments. As it is prevalent in our lives it is difficult to imagine the effect of microgravity on basic things although they play important roles in the development of certain objects. In this experiment the effect of microgravity on the fungus Flammulina velutipes (F. velutipes), classified as Basidiomycota or gill fungus (mushroom) is tested. It is previously known that gravity already has a profound effect on the growth and structural development of F. velutipes. Fungal growth from spores and growth medium (aqueous sucrose solution) in a MixStix in the International Space Station is compared to fungal growth in matching enclosures on Earth. After several days the fungus is preserved. Upon the return to Earth, the structure and growth is compared to a control group that has been growing under the influence of Earth’s gravity. The comparison is made by observing any evident changes and inspecting the cross-section of each sample under a light microscope. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1008)
Aleve® XR and Microencapsulation in Microgravity
Downingtown S.T.E.M. Academy, Grade 9, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
The focus of this experiment is to observe how microgravity affects the release of the microencapsulated drug Aleve® XR. From the outcomes of previous experiments done in space that are similar, it is predicted that the release rate of the drug is prolonged in microgravity. The experiment requires the microcapsule be dissolved by a simulated stomach acid made up of hydrochloric acid, deionized water, sodium chloride, and potassium chloride. When the experiment is sent back to earth, the concentration of amphetamines released by the Aleve® XR is compared to the concentration of the amphetamines released on earth, in order to see how microgravity affects how strong the microencapsulation of the drug is. If there is a lower concentration of Aleve® XR, then this means that the microcapsule is stronger in space, because the coating would have lasted longer. The results of this experiment also provide researchers with information regarding the effects of microgravity, specifically on the release of microcapsules. Crewmembers can then act accordingly on how heavy each dose needs to be in order to be effective on a particular disease. It can also contribute to manufacturing longer lasting medicines, if the microcapsule stays intact in microgravity. (NRP-10009-1, S/N 1011)
What Are the Effects of Creation of Beer in Microgravity and is it Possible?
STEM School and Academy, Grade 6, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
By combining the four main ingredients (malt barley, hops, yeast, and water) of beer in space, is alcohol produced? This question was inspired by the use of beer as a replacement to regular water, as the alcohol killed bacteria that were in regular water. If an emergency occurred, and all water was polluted, creating beer from it disinfects it, and it is relatively cheaper than purifying it with special tablets that may not last. And as it kills bacteria, it can also be used medically to disinfect wounds. The experiment’s results are useful for both medical and survival reasons, and it is fairly easy to conduct with limited human interactions. Hydrometer tests are used to measure if any alcohol was produced by the yeast-sugar reaction. (NRP-10009-2, S/N 1011)
The Effect of Microgravity on Calcium Absorption by Bones
Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Junior High School, Grade 7, Pigeon, Michigan
This investigation determines if a decalcified bone absorbs calcium in microgravity. It is hypothesized that the decalcified bone absorbs the calcium from the calcium solution to sustain calcium levels in microgravity. On Earth, it is predicted that the bone’s density increases.  A decalcified bone is used since harvested bone cells die without homeostasis. The bone is x-rayed, measured, and weighed to determine its density/mass: 1) before it is decalcified, 2) after decalcification and, 3) after the SSEP flight. The experiment is tested on Earth by combining crushed calcium pills, buffered saline and a section of the wishbone (furcula) of a chicken (Gallus domesticus). Chicken bone is used because it fits in the MixStix yet the pieces from the same bone are available for testing the experiment on Earth and in microgravity. Finding a way to help sustain bone density helps crewmembers’ health. This allows them to continue being in space without the problem of loss of bone density, which reduces the risk of broken bones while in space and osteoporosis. (NRP-10009-3, S/N 1011)
Bacteria and Decomposition
Jamestown High School, Grade 9-10, Jamestown, Pennsylvania
Bacteria and Decomposition takes a closer look at a bacteria’s ability to decompose soil in space. In order to have human beings live safely in outer space for extended periods of time, it is important to look at one of Earth’s decomposer’s ability to function in microgravity. If life is going to be sustained in space, it is important to see if a decomposer is capable of breaking down waste and adding nutrients to the soil. (NRP-10009-4, S/N 1011)
The Effect of Microgravity on the Oxidation of Metal Exposed to a Salt Water Solution
Palmetto Scholars Academy, Grade 7, North Charleston, South Carolina
This experiment examines the structural integrity of iron exposed to a saltwater solution in microgravity. It is proposed that the oxidation changes because the surface tension of the liquid in space is more apparent than in normal gravity. Iron is chosen for the experiment because it rusts quickly and is easier to examine during the limited time frame of the experiment. A MixStix is used with salt water on one side and an iron bar and oxygen in the other. The iron bar is the kind used for metal tensile testing; the oxygen and salt water oxidizes it. The two mix when the crewmember releases the clamp and shakes the container. Three test samples, one with salt water in space, one with salt water on Earth, and one with no salt water on Earth are examined. Once the product of the three experiments, the two on Earth and the one in microgravity, is obtained, they are tested. A metal tensile test measures the integrity of the iron bars, and a scanning electron microscope looks for differences in corrosion. Knowing how liquids in microgravity affect the oxidation of metals is important when designing containers for the International Space Station and manned spacecrafts. This is also useful in understanding oxidation in low gravity environments like on the moon or Mars. (NRP-10009-5, S/N 1011)
How does microgravity effect the mold growth on bread?
Cesar Chavez Elementary, Grade 5, Pharr, Texas
How does microgravity affect the mold growth on bread? In order to determine how mold on bread reacts differently on Earth than in microgravity, “Gerber Graduates for Toddlers Lil’ Biscuits” are used. The procedures for conducting the experiment in microgravity are as follow. First, the biscuit arrives packaged and refrigerated to Houston. Then, the biscuit is placed inside the NanoRacks MixStix, which is separated by a clamp. Finally, on arrival plus two days the crewmembers slowly open the clamp letting two milliliters of Aquafina distilled water drop, giving the biscuit moisture to start growing mold. Once returned to Earth, observations are made of the biscuit’s color, texture, thickness of mold, and also by viewing the slide of the mold spores under the microscope. An exact replica of the experiment on Earth is conducted at the same time as the experiment in microgravity, so both experiments are compared. (NRP-10009-6, S/N 1011)
Dehydrated and Live Tardigrades Vs. Microgravity
Rochester Early College International High School, Grade 11, Rochester, New York
This proposal focuses on two experiments. The first is to see whether rehydrated tardigrades in a microgravity environment have any structural and behavioral differences from the dehydrated tardigrades on Earth. The second experiment is the same except with live tardigrades. Tardigrades are known for their ability to withstand any type of conditions. This experiment tests while dehydrated and activated in space can they still survive or will they behave differently? The same experiment is done on Earth. After the six weeks in microgravity, the experiment returns to Earth and is examined microscopically. The two experiments are then compared to determine any structural and behavioral differences. (NRP-10009-7, S/N 1011)

The Formation of Silver Crystals in Microgravity
Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center, Grade 11, Warren, Michigan
What happens to the formation of crystals in an environment with both increased radiation and microgravity? The experiment tests if crystals can be formed in space and if they are similar to those formed on Earth. We are testing this because Crystals are able to store natural gas due to their porous and rigid nature. It is predicted that these crystals form in space as they do on earth because the actual formation of the crystals is caused by a chemical reaction that does not seem to depend on gravity for the formation of the crystals. If the hypothesis is correct and these crystals that are grown in space have the same properties as those on Earth, they may show that crystals could have use in storing fuel in space. In this experiment, the crystals are compared on their color, average size, symmetry, approximately how many faces they have, and any other structural difference between samples. Also, the mass of each sample is measured to compare any differences in the sizes of the samples. By comparing the two samples of crystals in these categories, it becomes evident if the space crystals are physically the same as those formed on earth. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1011)

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Space Applications
The SSEP, a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, is a keystone initiative for U.S. science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The program educates and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers who will work on the space program.

Earth Applications
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program teaches students in grades 5-12 about the process of exploration, science as a journey, and the joys of learning. It provides an opportunity to implement a STEM education program throughout the educational system, tailored to the needs of different communities throughout the U.S. The SSEP engages students and their teachers in real science and provides students with first-hand experience in scientific experiments and the space program.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
The MixStix are unclamped to activate. The MixStix are returned to the student teams. Each team unseals their MixStix, harvests the samples and compares to their ground truth experiments, analyzes results, and presents results at the SSEP National Conference at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
A crewmember removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. The crewmember unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crewmember then shakes the MixStix (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix. Crewmember notes the time of MixStix activation and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with the Velcro tabs.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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image Future scientists Brianna Azuara and Amanda Chavez, Cesar Chavez Elementary, measure the mass of their samples during the experiment design phase of  "How does microgravity effect the mold growth on bread?"  Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Future Drs. Griffin Eslinger and Alex Puckhaber, Palmetto Scholars Academy, assessing pH of saltwater solution before introduction into the MixStix for "The Effect of Microgravity on the Oxidation of Metal Exposed to a Salt Water Solution". Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Co-PI Cheyanne Jeffrey and Collaborator Vicki-Ann Aman, Rochester Early College International High School, discuss contents of the "Dehydrated and Live Tardigrades Vs. Microgravity" MixStix during a team planning meeting. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Co-PIs Steven Prascius and Sydney Waynick, and Co-I Hunter Montrose, Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center, explore "The Formation of Silver Crystals in Microgravity". Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Junior High School student (LtoR) Chandler Furness, Sarah Hammond, Nick Wolschlager, Hannah Hammond, Chelsey Katshor, and Halle Keim working on a rough draft of their proposal, "The Effect of Microgravity on Calcium Absorption by Bones". Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Microgravity researcher Michal Bodzianowski, STEM School and Academy, assessing his experiment, "What Are the Effects of Creation of Beer in Microgravity and is it Possible?" Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Co-PIs Alvin Wong, Patrick Yang, and Wei Li of the Bronx High School of Science plan their ISS experiment, "Effect of Microgravity in Structure of the Fungus Flammulina velutipes". Image courtesy of SSEP.
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