NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Yeast cells are used as model organisms for human cells, allowing researchers to study new medicines, the effects of microgravity, and other phenomena on Earth and in space. NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment sends three different yeast strains to the International Space Station, where they grow in the same environment with the same nutrients. The investigation compares the cells’ growth rates, structure and respiration to yeast grown on Earth, and analyzes the cells after they return from space to determine how microgravity affects their function and behavior.
Science Results for Everyone
Initiation of this investigation has been affected by the loss of the Orbital-3 launch vehicle and mission in October 2014.

The following content was provided by Jessika Smith, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-44

Principal Investigator(s)
Awty International School , Awty International School, Houston, TX, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Jessika Smith, Awty International School, Houston, TX, United States

Developer(s)
NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015; March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment investigates the cellular growth rate, cellular structure and the process of cellular respiration of three strains of yeast in microgravity.
  • Learning how microgravity affects the amount of carbon dioxide produced contributes to the development of air recycling and filtration for long-duration missions.
  • Using visual images taken with a camera, NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment measures the rate of growth of three different strains of yeast using the same growth media.
  • This experiment uses a standard 1.0 U (10 cm by 10 cm by 10 cm) NanoRacks Module consisting of an aluminum ArduLab. It contains a y-plate with agar and yeast. There are sensors including a temperature/humidity sensor and a carbon dioxide sensor. A camera and two bright LED lights are installed. An RTC clock has been installed to organize data as it is collected.
  • Upon return to Earth, the make-up/cell structure is analyzed to determine how microgravity affects the cells.
  • Using a carbon dioxide sensor, the levels of carbon dioxide are measured to determine if a microgravity environment affects the levels of gas produced.
  • Medical research uses yeast cell studies to investigate advances/hypotheses in the effectiveness of medicines and also how the microgravity environment affects the human body.

Description
NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment joins other studies that look at cell growth and development in a microgravity environment. Medical research uses yeast cell studies to investigate advances/form hypotheses on the effectiveness of medicines. Researchers also study how the microgravity environment affects the human body and cell structure. Students learned that yeast cells are often studied in space because they closely resemble how human cells function. In addition, students understand that NASA no longer expects to take astronauts to the moon, or the International Space Station (ISS) once it is deorbited. Rather, NASA is looking towards a loftier goal of placing a man or woman on Mars. This spaceflight would be considerably longer than other missions. It is important to continue research in this field to gain as much knowledge as possible to better prepare/protect and treat the men and women who travel to space. The student research team understands that humans produce carbon dioxide (CO2) as a waste product. They are interested in determining if cells produce more CO2 in a microgravity environment than on earth. This information is necessary as engineers develop air recirculation systems for vessels traveling further into the galaxy.

NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment sends three different strains of yeast in one growth medium to a microgravity environment. The yeast selected are Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces ellipsoideus, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. A camera is used to determine rate of growth. A temperature and humidity sensor measures the environmental conditions surrounding the yeast. Finally, a carbon dioxide sensor compares levels of carbon dioxide being produced. It will also serve as a fail-safe to ensure the yeast are continuing to grow if camera operations are lost. Ground experiments are run simultaneously for comparison data. Cell structure is evaluated upon return to Earth.

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Applications

Space Applications

Microgravity causes several changes to organisms at the cellular level, from simple yeast cells to the human body. The investigation examines cell growth and structure in microgravity, which improves researchers’ understanding of changes that take place in humans during space missions. The investigation also studies cell respiration, and whether microgravity affects the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) a yeast cell produces. Understanding how microgravity affects CO2 production contributes to improved air filtration and recycling systems on future long-duration missions.

Earth Applications
Yeast cells are widely used as models for human cells. Studying their response to microgravity improves biological studies related to human health, including studies on the potential advantages of new drugs. In addition, students designed the investigation and conducted several ground preparations to compare their results with the yeast flown in space. Students are exposed to a real scientific investigation, preparing them for potential careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks Module-44 needs to be kept in cold stowage +4°C until ready for plug-in. Once plugged in, data is downlinked three times per week. Once unplugged and prepared for return flight, NanoRacks Module-44 must again be placed in cold stowage to ensure the yeast become inactive.
NanoRacks Module-44 is destowed immediately in order to have the maximum number of days possible to obtain data. It is plugged into the NanoRacks Platform and operates autonomously for a minimum of 30 days. NanoRacks Module-44 returns cold stowage at +4°C on SpX-5.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
CASIS National Design Challenge (NDC) Pilot Program

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Imagery

image Awty International School student Colette Chen working with the hardware and electric schematic for the NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment investigation. Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image The NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment experiment module (orientation for launch/return). Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image The NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment experiment module (orientation for launch/return). Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image The NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment experiment module (orientation for launch/return). Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image The NanoRacks-Awty-Yeast Cell Growth in a Microgravity Environment ArduLab Microcontroller. Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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