NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Some bacteria are more virulent in space, and on Earth, certain bacteria species are evolving to resist even the strongest antibiotics, resulting in “superbugs” that cause serious and life-threatening infections. A microscopic coating patterned after sharkskin repels bacteria, including drug-resistant strains. NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) studies whether a sharkskin-like coating affects the growth of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria in microgravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Sam Terfa, M.S., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-22 S/N 1003

Principal Investigator(s)
Minnehaha Academy , Minneapolis, MN, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Sam Terfa, M.S., Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, MN, United States

Developer(s)
Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, MN, United States
NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,45/46

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • In recent studies, surfaces with a microscopic pattern of bumps that resemble sharkskin repel germs, and may even be able to ward off “superbugs”.
  • Use of such a surface in high-touch areas could greatly reduce the risk of infections or spreading of illness especially in space, while crew members' immune systems are suppressed.
  • NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) tests bacterial growth in microgravity using Sharklet™, which is a biofilm that mimics the antimicrobial properties of sharkskin.
  • The experiment involves using a test chamber that has Sharklet™ on half of the chamber’s silicon surface area and half without Sharklet.
  • A strain of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) is applied to both chamber areas. The level of growth of the bacteria for both areas is compared.
  • The experiment is compared to a ground-run version to test the effect of microgravity on the antibacterial surfaces.

Description

NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) tests bacterial growth in microgravity using Sharklet™, which is a biofilm that mimics the antimicrobial properties of sharkskin. In recent studies, surfaces with a microscopic pattern of bumps that resemble sharkskin repel germs, and may even be able to ward off “superbugs”. Use of such a surface in high-touch areas could greatly reduce the risk of infections or spreading of illness especially in space, while crew members' immune systems are suppressed. NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth consists of two major chambers: one containing the nutrient broth to grow the bacteria, and one containing the bacteria in a lyophilized (endospore) form to prevent premature growth. The nutrient broth is forced by use of rubber bands into the second chamber through a two-way valve. The fluid is mixed in the second chamber with the endosporic bacteria by use of a vibration motor. The sub-module has rubber bands on all sides suspending it in the air. The vibration with the rubber bands creates simple harmonic motion and the residual motion forces the mixing of the nutrient broth with the lyophilized (endospore) form bacteria.  The second chamber is also the test chamber, which has Sharklet™ material on half of the chamber’s silicon surface area and half without Sharklet™ (i.e. the control area). A strain of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) is applied to both chamber areas. The level of growth of the bacteria for both areas is compared.

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Applications

Space Applications
Many species of bacteria become more virulent in space, where human immune systems are already compromised, a combination that could result in serious infections. Coating surfaces with a microbe-repellent cover such as Sharklet™, based on the texture of sharkskin, could reduce the spread of disease in space, safeguarding crew health on future missions.

Earth Applications

As bacteria evolve to resist drug treatment, physical means may be an alternative to preventing the spread of disease. Sharklet™ is a new type of plastic coating modeled after the texture of sharkskin, which repels barnacles and other marine parasites. This investigation improves understanding of how well Sharklet™ functions in extreme environments, benefiting people on Earth. In addition, students from Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis designed the investigation, gaining experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to prepare them for future careers.
 

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

Data collection within the experiment is automated; downlink will be done via scheduled STELLA/NanoRacks command window intervals for the NanoRacks Platform. Payload is ambient and soft-stowed, but late loaded (approximately L-72hr) and an early return.
 

Crew interaction with NanoRacks Module-22 is limited to transferring the NanoRacks Module from the launch vehicle to the ISS, installing the Module into a NanoRacks Platform, activating the NanoRacks platform, data retrieval (as needed) during the mission, and destowing and returning the Module.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Minnehaha Academy
NanoRacks
Student Science

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Imagery

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The NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) team from Minneapolis, MN. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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Mechanical team member checks circuit board during experiment assembly for the NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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Biological team members culture fluorescent bacteria for the NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) experiment at the University of Minnesota. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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An electrical team member prepares LED lights for final testing for the NanoRacks-Minnehaha Academy-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth (NanoRacks-MA-Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Growth) investigation. Image courtesy of Minnehaha Academy.

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