Biological Research in Canisters-23 (BRIC-23) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Spaceflight weakens the immune system and simultaneously makes certain microbes grow stronger, a combination that could lead to serious infections on future space missions, especially in the case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Biological Research in Canisters-23 (BRIC-23) investigation studies Bacillus subtilis spores and Staphylococcus aureus cells to understand how they respond to the stressful environment of space. Results from this investigation improve the understanding of how microbes adapt to spaceflight, including whether their adaptations change antibiotic effectiveness, which benefits efforts to maintain crew member health.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom: BRIC-23

Principal Investigator(s)

Information Pending

Wayne Nicholson, Ph.D., University of Florida, Merritt Island, FL, United States
Patricia Fajardo-Cavazos, University of Florida - Space Life Sciences Laboratory, Merritt Island, FL, United States

NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Space Life and Physical Sciences (NASA Research-SLPS)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery, Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
BRIC-Petri Dish Fixation Unit (PDFU) hardware flew previously on STS-87, STS-107, STS-131, STS-135, SpaceX-2, SpaceX-3, SpaceX-4, SpaceX-5, and SpaceX-6.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

The primary objectives of the Biological Research in Cannisters-23 (BRIC-23) are to:
  • Demonstrate all processes and operations required for successful completion of GeneLab Reference Experiments conducted on ISS, and
  • Generate high quality GeneLab Reference Experiment Omics data sets for two (2) prokaryotic model organisms, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus.


The objective of this experiment is to demonstrate all post-flight steps required for successful completion of NASA GeneLab Reference Experiments conducted on-board ISS, and to generate high quality data sets for Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. These samples will be grown aboard the ISS, frozen on-orbit, returned to Earth, and then later thawed for testing. The GeneLab Community will decide which tests will be conducted to provide the most valuable data for addition to the GeneLab database.

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Space Applications

Previous research has shown long-duration space missions negatively affect crew health, both because of weakened immunity and because of increased virulence of some species of microbes. Common, normally harmless bacteria can resist antibiotics more readily in space, posing a threat to astronaut health and to future missions to asteroids, Mars, or other distant destinations. This investigation is an equipment verification test providing basic data for two species of bacteria, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. Information on how these bacteria adapt to spaceflight is added to a GeneLab database, providing a baseline for future research on bacterial growth in microgravity.

Earth Applications
Bacteria are continually evolving to resist antibiotic compounds that can kill them, and multiple drug-resistant bacteria species are a threat in hospital settings. Like a spacecraft, hospitals are enclosed environments that contain several people with weakened immune systems, so understanding how bacteria adapt to spaceflight has implications for infection control in hospitals. This investigation helps scientists understand various gene pathways involved in bacterial adaptation to stressful environments, benefiting people on Earth.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

BRIC-23 is a crossover flight. Samples are launched and returned on the same flight, and have the following operational requirements: late stow of experiment at L-24 hours in a cargo transfer bag. Actuation should be performed by the crew at no later than Handover +14 days. Samples are to be frozen in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) prior to double cold bag packing in preparation for return to Earth.

The BRIC-23 payload is stowed in a cargo transfer bag for ascent to the ISS on the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft. At no later than Handover + 14 days, the payload hardware is accessed for actuation. A rod is removed from the Rod Kit and inserted into the BRIC-PDFU (Biological Research In Cannisters- Petri Dish Fixation Unit) Actuator Tool, ensuring the clip is installed. The Actuator Tool is attached to the selected BRIC-PDFU canister lid in position 1, and is used to mechanically force a growth medium into the Petri dishes. This process is repeated until all the PDFUs are activated in all four canisters. After a 24-hour growth period (+/- 2 hours) for Canisters A and C and a 48-hour growth period (+/- 2 hours) for Canisters B and D, the canisters are transferred to the MELFI for freezing of the samples at -80°C or less.

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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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Petri Dish Fixation Units (PDFUs) in BRIC Canister.

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Assembled Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC).

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BRIC Actuator Tool.

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