NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Charlie Brown (SSEP Mission 5) (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Charlie Brown) - 11.21.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Students from 5th though 12th grade bring their classrooms into space through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, part of NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Charlie Brown (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Charlie Brown).  Student-designed experiments fly to the International Space Station in a NanoRacks module, and address questions about plant growth, bacteria, antibiotics, rust and more. The investigations connect students to space in a unique way.
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: NanoRacks Module-9 Ext S/N 1012, 1013

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
March 2014 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Charlie Brown (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Charlie Brown) is the seventh 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.
  • Fifteen experiments are selected from 1,344 student team proposals, engaging 6,750 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-Charlie Brown 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 eight 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 6 to ISS (Mission 6 does not fly until Fall 2014). To date, 84 communities have participated in the program, with over 319,000 grade K-16 students given the opportunity to participate in their community-wide experience. A total of 36,300 grade 5-16 students were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, and 6,435 experiment proposals were submitted by student teams (not counting Mission 6 to ISS). To date, 19 communities have participated in 2, 3, 4 or 5 flight opportunities, reflecting the sustainable nature of the program.
NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Charlie Brown (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Charlie Brown) includes the following 15 student experiments on Orbital-2:
Affected Efficacy of Sprayed Enamel Coating as a Corrosion Inhibitor
Milton L. Olive Middle School, Grade 7-8, Wyandanch, New York
This investigation focuses on the effectiveness of Rust-Oleum®’s ‘Stops Rust’ spray paint. The resilience of the coating on Earth is compared to its resilience in a microgravity environment. Due to familiarity, Coca-Cola® is used as the corrosive agent (also, multiple bottles from the same lot may be easily acquired).  Two iron disks (99.5% pure Fe) uniformly sprayed with the protective coating, as well as two disks without a coating, are affixed onto an acrylic strip using silicone caulking underneath. A 72-hour exposure to the soda occurs on the ISS and on Earth, stopped via a polymer absorbing the Coca-Cola®. The remaining average coating thickness is measured to within 0.1 μm as well as visually inspecting the surfaces assisted by a microscope. (NRP-10009-1, S/N 1012)
How does an onion root cell divide in microgravity?
Northland Preparatory Academy, Grade 7, Flagstaff, Arizona

Are onion root cells able to replicate DNA in the absence of gravity? An onion seed germinates on board the ISS and on Earth.  The cells of the root of each sample are analyzed to determine if there are any mutations during DNA replication. It is predicted that the cells, during the process of cell division, will have trouble replicating in a microgravity environment. If mutations are commonplace in space, then the ramifications are great for all organisms including astronauts. (NRP-10009-2, S/N 1012)
Triops as a Protein Source
Mark West Charter School, Grade 7-8; Riebli Elementary School, Grade 5-6, Santa Rosa, California
The focus of this project is to study the feasibility of Triops longicaudatus as a protein source to help sustain life in space with microgravity conditions. In addition to plant-based diets, producing a food source that is rich in protein and can fit in the confines of a space station is necessary. This investigation studies whether Triops longicaudatus hatch and grow well in microgravity as a possible protein source for long-term flight conditions. (NRP-10009-3, S/N 1012)

Growth of Radish Plant in Microgravity
Chavez Prep, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, Grade 9, Washington, DC
The purpose of this experiment is to see if microgravity has an effect on the way that radish seeds grow. The roots and shoots of plants usually need gravity to be able to grow in a specific direction. Roots grow towards gravity, usually in the direction towards the center of the Earth, and the shoots grow away from gravity towards the sky. The reason this experiment is being done is because the roots and shoots of a plant might grow in different directions in microgravity on the ISS than they grow on Earth, which could affect how the plant creates food and develops. It is predicted that the roots grow in many different directions instead of one direction like they do on Earth because there is less gravity. To test this experiment a MixStix contains water in Volume 1, a sponge and two radish seeds in Volume 2, and 91% isopropyl alcohol in Volume 3. In addition to the experiment done in space, another experiment with the same materials is going to be done on Earth. When the experiment in space comes back to Earth, the plant that was kept here on Earth is compared to the plant that was sent to space. The information helps see how microgravity affects a plant’s growth. If the results are similar then that means that microgravity does not have a big impact on a plant’s growth. (NRP-10009-4, S/N 1012)
How many seeds will germinate in microgravity vs. on Earth?
FishHawk Creek Elementary, Grade 5, Hillsborough County, Florida
How many seeds germinate in microgravity vs. on Earth?  This investigation is looking for the frequency of seed germination in space. The purpose of this investigation is to see if lettuce successfully grows in space providing a nutritious vegetable for our future astronauts. Since lettuce grows very quickly, with the right conditions, this would be a good source of nutrition for the astronauts.  It is important to study how seeds grow in space as it helps the astronauts in many ways. This decreases the amount of food the astronauts need to bring on a mission therefore decreasing fuel costs. When astronauts go for longer missions sending up food is not an option, as it requires too much additional mass on the rocket. If astronauts were able to grow their own food there would be a fresh food source keeping them healthy when they travel for longer missions. Also, if a mission is delayed astronauts will not have to worry about running out of food. (NRP-10009-5, S/N 1012)
Will microgravity conditions increase the rate of yeast fermentation in honey?
The Academy @ Shawnee, Grade 9-12, Jefferson County, Kentucky
This investigation tests the effects of microgravity on the production of alcohol by yeast in a viscous honey/water medium. Yeast is a single-celled organism. When yeast consumes simple sugars such as glucose, the byproducts are carbon dioxide and ethanol. Yeast can’t live on sugar alone. It is most active in an environment with other nutrients. Honey has many of these nutrients but is more resistant to being fermented. A pure honey solution ferments, but on Earth it can take three months to a year. It is believed that when introduced in an environment with microgravity the fermentation of yeast speeds up because the molecules are in a state of constant free fall therefore increasing the rate of reaction. The specific gravity of our samples is measured and uses the Brix scale to determine remaining sugar concentration. Both samples are further analyzed by using a pH meter to determine acidity of each sample. Comparing acidity also provides evidence for which solution produced more alcohol. On Earth, yeast fermentation is used to make a variety of drinking alcohols. However, alcohol can be utilized in many other forms such as antiseptics or in the production of several foods. Antiseptics are vital to the medical industry for the removal of bacteria. If this data shows a higher yield of alcohol in microgravity, the space station could have a sustainable source of many vital essentials, and there would be a higher understanding of how microorganisms react in microgravity. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1013)

Core-Shell Micro/Nanodisks: Microencapsulation in Two Dimensions under Microgravity
Murray Hill Middle School, Grade 8, Howard County, Maryland
The experiment is primarily designed to study the effects of microgravity on the process of microencapsulation in two-dimensional membranes. Unlike on Earth, microgravity allows all liquids to form thin membranes in metal rings including pure water, which is known to be unable to form membranes under Earth’s gravity. It is expected that the membrane forms core-shell micro/nanodisks or smaller-sized capsules in the microencapsulation process with dimensional constraints. The significant increase of surface area of these micro/nanodisk capsules or smaller-sized capsules expedites their dissolution process, which may be needed for better control of drug release rates. Specifically, the experiment is performed in a model system by mixing an aspirin solution and a gelatin solution in space. The mixture forms two-dimensional membranes on the thin platinum wire rings under microgravity through an apparatus. The liquid then proceeds naturally through the coacervation process (phase separation) to form microcapsules within the membranes. After the experimental sample is brought back to Earth, further analysis is performed on their sizes and shapes using optical microscopy, as well as the concentration of aspirin in a simulated stomach acid over 4 hours. The proposed experiment not only provides fundamental understanding of microencapsulation in two-dimensional liquid membranes, but also opens a door for further research on effective control of drug release. (NRP-10009-7, S/N 1012)
The Production of Antibiotics from Bacillus subtilis in Microgravity
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Grade 11, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
The purpose of this experiment is to monitor the production of antibiotics produced from Bacillus subtilis (B. subtilis) in microgravity compared to its production on Earth. To accomplish this a freeze-dried sample of the cell with a growth medium and growth inhibitor, separated by two clamps in the MixStix, is sent into space. Two weeks prior to the departure from the ISS, the astronaut releases clamp A mixing the reactants. The activated B. subtilis is then divided into two sections. Two days before the return of the rocket, the astronaut mixes one of the B. subtilis samples with its growth inhibitor. After the growth medium and the B. subtilis are mixed, the effects of microgravity on an activated sample versus a deactivated sample are compared. The growth inhibitor is important because it allows for monitoring whether or not B. subtilis can be preserved and reactivated when necessary to ensure that health treatments may be available without the immediate support of Earth. During the same time period there is an identical experiment conducted on Earth to provide data to compare with the results of the test in microgravity. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1012)

If you cut a Dugesia Planarian worm would it grow back in microgravity?
North Attleborough Middle School, Grade 6, North Attleborough, Massachusetts
Regeneration is essential to all life forms here on Earth, but is it possible in microgravity? This experiment is about whether or not a Dugesia Planarian worm can regenerate in microgravity. The experiment in microgravity determines if human life forms or any life forms would be able to heal a cut in microgravity. The hypothesis is that the Dugesia Planarian worm is not able to regenerate in microgravity.  This hypothesis is tested on Earth by cutting the Dugesia Planarian worm in half and observing if it regenerates. It was observed via Internet video that the Dugesia Planarian worm would be able to regenerate on Earth. This experiment is useful to future civilization if we ever had to move to a place that exposes us to microgravity. In addition, if someone were wounded it would be beneficial to know if we potentially are able to heal. (NRP-10009-1, S/N 1013)
Oxidation in Space
St. Peter’s School, Grade 8, Kansas City, Missouri
The Oxidation in Space investigation determines the effect of microgravity upon the process of oxidation. This experiment is being observed because in a spacecraft, there is free flowing water that could damage (or rust) the metal of the interior and exterior of that spacecraft. The rusting of an iron nail is studied as water is added to its section of the MixStix. This investigation determines if oxidation (or rusting) occurs faster, slower, or at all because of microgravity. (NRP-10009-2, S/N 1013)
Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production in Zero Gravity
Brookhaven Academy, Grade 12, Brookhaven, Mississippi
Will the bacteria, Ralstonia eutropha (R. eutropha), maintain its ability to produce polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) while exposed to a zero gravity environment? PHA is biodegradable polyester that is used to make many things such as medical sutures, vein valve replacement, skin grafts, and several other things. In earth’s gravity, PHA is nontoxic to the human body, allowing it to be safely used for medical purposes (J. Bacteriol, July 2003).  PHA is a short chemical chain composed of a methyl or ethyl group, created by bacterial fermentation. The bacteria that produce PHA in this experiment are R. eutropha, which is one of several bacteria that can produce PHA. The bacteria produce PHA through bacterial fermentation, which is a process that breaks down a carbon source in a nutrient broth leaving behind pellets of PHA, or plastic.  This experiment determines whether R. eutropha maintains the ability to produce PHA in microgravity. If the bacteria can make PHA after being exposed to microgravity, it will allow for several medical components to be made in space such as medical sutures, vein-valve replacements, skin grafts, and several other things. This production of medical supplies in space will greatly improve medical care for astronauts in space. (NRP-10009-3, S/N 1013)

Penicillium Growth Rate in Microgravity
Pennsauken Phifer Middle School, Grade 8, Pennsauken, New Jersey
What is the growth rate of penicillium? Penicillin is an antibiotic or group of antibiotics produced naturally by certain blue molds, and now usually prepared synthetically. The hypothesis for this investigation is that the growth of the antibiotic (penicillin) in microgravity grows at a much faster rate. The plan for the experiment is to add apple cider in the MixStix. But it has to be placed in a dark and warm surrounding. Then the antibiotic should start growing in about three to four days. You wouldn’t have to add any more chemicals… it is easy as that. How is this useful? Penicillium can actually be turned into a helpful drug. This helpful drug can be used to treat infections caused by bacteria. (NRP-10009-4, S/N 1013)
What is the effect of microgravity on mold growth on white bread?
New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Mathematics, District 01, Grade 5, New York City, New York
This investigation answers the question, “What is the effect of microgravity on mold growth on white bread?” Before this experiment, the students in this class did not know very much about mold growth and they thought it would be really cool to learn about a new topic in microgravity. The experiment has no determined initiation, so the procedure is to leave a small sample of white bread in a MixStix and to leave it alone for the duration of the mission. The ground element has the same procedure. The insight hoped to gain from this experiment involves mold starting out as dust. If there is a lot of mold dust in the air, then it crowds each other out, and naturally land on the bread. However, if there is little mold dust in the air, then microgravity carries it away and then it never lands on the bread. Lastly, the results of the ground element and microgravity element are assessed by measuring the area of the mold on the white bread in square inches. The color of the mold and the color of the white bread are also observed. (NRP-10009-5, S/N 1013)

Lettuce Growth
Cottage Lane Elementary School, Grade 5, Rockland County, New York
A lettuce plant is grown to see how long it takes to germinate on Earth with no light. This is taking place because there are dark places on the Space Station. Astronauts are doing the same thing, but with microgravity. When the MixStix gets back home, both germinations are compared side by side. If it doesn’t take long, maybe astronauts can grow and pick their own food in space. This helps because people don’t have to waste money by sending up food. (NRP-10009-6, S/N 1013)

Artificial Ear?
Mendenhall Middle School, Grade 6-8, Greensboro, North Carolina
The purpose of this experiment is to see if the size of Calcium Sulfate crystals grown in space differs from those grown on Earth. The reason the students are interested in this is because they learned that jellyfish born in space lacked the ability to sense direction after returning to Earth. They wondered if the same thing would happen to humans born in space. Jellyfish sense direction through crystals grown in follicular pockets (pockets with hair in them) along their rim. It is wondered if the reason for the jelly vertigo could be due to larger crystal formation in the pockets. In the MixStix, crystal powder is placed in volume 1 and distilled water in volume 2. Once in microgravity, an astronaut releases the clip and gently shakes the tube to mix the ingredients and start the crystallization process.  (NRP-10009-7, S/N 1013)

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Space Applications
Students in grades 5-12 design experiments addressing key questions for living and working in space, including germination and growth of food crops, the production of antibiotics, and the effectiveness of rust-preventative coatings. Connecting students with the ISS engages them with real science, providing experience in science, technology, engineering and math to inspire the next generation of aerospace workers.

Earth Applications
The SSEP sparks a love of learning, enables student ownership in exploration, and teaches the importance of science as a journey. It provides a historic opportunity to implement a systemic, high-caliber STEM education program tailored to communities across the United States.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

The MixStix are unclamped to combine different compartments, typically causing either activation or deactivation of the experiment.  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 Mark West Charter School and Riebli Elementary School, Santa Rosa, CA, student researchers experimenting with Triops for the Triops as a Protein Source investigation. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Northland Preparatory Academy, Flagstaff, AZ, student researchers Avelar, Wachowski, and Willis assessing required volumes of water and ethanol fixative for the How does an onion root cell divide in microgravity? investigation. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Co-PIs Michelle Vanegas-Lacan, Lizeth Urioso, and Megan Ramos, Chavez Prep, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, Washington, DC, discuss the operation of the Growth of Radish Plant in Microgravity MixStix. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Isabelle, Srinidhi, and Miranda, FishHawk Creek Elementary, Hillsborough County, FL, preparing lettuce seeds to test protocols for assessing the effects of microgravity on germination for the investigation, How many seeds will germinate in microgravity vs. on Earth? Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Student scientists from The Academy @ Shawnee, Jefferson County, KY, prepare the experiment; Will microgravity conditions increase the rate of yeast fermentation in honey? Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Ashley is looking at bacteria under the microscope while Liza, Stephanie, and Samantha are discussing analysis ideas for the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Fitchburg, MA, investigation, The Production of Antibiotics from Bacillus subtilis in Microgravity. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Young North Attleborough Middle School, North Attleborough, MA, scientists experimenting with planarian worm regeneration here on Earth for the investigation, If you cut a Dugesia Planarian worm would it grow back in microgravity? Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Co-PIs Butler, Egan, Bradley-Toomer, and Campbell, St. Peter’s School, Grade 8, Kansas City, MO, are studying the Oxidation in Space MixStix, to ensure their oxidation experiment is compliant with specifications. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image Brookhaven Academy, Brookhaven, MS, researchers examine their bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha. The Polyhydroxyalkanoate Production in Zero Gravity experiment assesses the production of PHA by this bacterium in microgravity. Image courtesy of SSEP.
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image A student researcher from Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC, measures out a solution for the Artificial Ear? investigation. Image Courtesy of SSEP.
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