NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Odyssey (SSEP Mission 7) (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Odyssey) - 07.19.17

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) provides one of the most unique educational opportunities available: student-designed experiments to be flown on the International Space Station. The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Odyssey (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Odyssey) investigation contains 24 student experiments, including microgravity studies of plant, algae and bacterial growth; polymers; development of multi-cellular organisms; chemical and physical processes; antibiotic efficacy; and allergic reactions. The program immerses students and teachers in real science, providing first-hand experience conducting scientific experiments and connecting them to the space program.
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

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 2015 - September 2015; March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Odyssey (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Odyssey) is the ninth flight opportunity associated with the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), in partnership with NanoRacks, LLC.
  • Twenty-four experiments were selected from 2,521 student team proposals, engaging 10,760 grade 5-15 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 and present their results at their own science conference.


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–elementary, middle and high school students (grades 5-12), and/or undergraduates at 2-year community colleges or 4-year universities–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 nine 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 7 to ISS. To date, 99 communities have participated in the program. A total of 45,970 grade 5-16 students were fully immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, and 10,443 experiment proposals were submitted by student teams. To date, 25 communities have participated in 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 flight opportunities, reflecting the sustainable nature of the program.

NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Odyssey (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Odyssey) includes the following 24 student experiments on SpaceX-7 and SpaceX-8:

Tardigrade Cryptobiotic Strategies vs. Microgravity
Damien High School, Grade 12, LaVerne, CA
Tardigrades are extremophilic microorganisms, able to inhabit nearly all terrestrial environments by adapting to seemingly inhospitable circumstances. Through a process known as cryptobiosis, tardigrades virtually stop all metabolic processes when introduced to conditions such as extreme temperature, pressure, dehydration, oxygen depletion, or high energy radiation. Tardigrades can survive for years in this ametabolic state, resuming activity once reintroduced to a normal environment. Previous experiments have demonstrated that tardigrades are able to survive the rigors of space using this incredible evolutionary strategy. The proposed experiment is designed to expand upon these results by analyzing if both initially active and ametabolic tardigrades are able to survive six weeks of exposure to microgravity using cryptobiotic strategies.  If a large percentage of tardigrades are able to remain viable after exposure to microgravity, the results of this experiment would invoke further questions regarding the possibility of adapting tardigrades’ cryptobiotic mechanisms for human use. This would allow scientists to travel deeper into space over longer durations by inducing reversible ametabolic states. (NRP-1009-6, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-6, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

At What Rate Will Algae Reproduce in a Microgravitational Setting Versus on Earth?
Petaluma High School, Grade 12, Petaluma, CA
Microalgal biomass can be used to produce biofuel, animal feed and even dietary supplements for human consumption. Microalgae produce an average of 5,000-15,000 gallons of oil per acre per year, almost seven times more productive than the next productive oilseed yield (oil palm). Previously tested algae samples have shown that certain green algae can produce up to 77% oil content (Schiochytrium). However, because light is not available in the module on the ISS, for the microalgal biomass sample a heterotrophic strain of algae that can reproduce in the absence of sunlight was chosen. Scenedesmus is an algae used in biofuel production that is known to be durable and have around a 40% lipid content. This strain survives solely on glucose in order to reproduce. This investigation proposes to answer the question: At what rate will algae reproduce in a microgravitational setting versus on Earth? The study is looking for changes in biomass produced in a given period of time in space compared to the number of cells reproduced on Earth in a lab setting. This experiment can later be applied to determine the amount of extractable oil yielded from algae samples, and other realistic applications for industrial, cosmetic, and supplement use. With the increasing concern for scarcity of non-renewable resources, the main intention is to provide a stepping-stone for future research. It is important to study different settings in which algae can grow in order to take advantage of the setting with the highest reproduction rate and highest efficiency. If it is determined that algae reproduce faster in a micro gravitational setting, then it may be beneficial to continue microalgal biomass cultivation in space as opposed to on Earth. (NRP-1009-1, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-1, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

The Effect of Microgravity on Paper Chromatography
Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, Grade 8, Santa Monica, CA
The investigation proposes to determine whether chromatography can be performed in
microgravity, and to discover how it may differ from being performed on Earth. Chromatography is a method by which you separate substances, using the capillary action of a solvent through a permeable medium. Paper chromatography was chosen because of it’s simplicity, and ease of use. For the experiment 3 mL of distilled water, 10 cm of coffee filter paper, and Papermate PMOP™ felt tipped pen ink are used. Volume 1 of the MixStix contains 3 mL of water. In Volume 2, 1 cm of coffee filter paper, and in Volume 3, the ink dot and the rest (9 cm) of the coffee filter paper. When the experiment returns to Earth, how far, and in what ways the ink and water have traveled through the paper are measured. This data is compared with the controlled experiment on Earth. The knowledge gained from this analysis provides a better understanding of chromatography, and various other aspects of physical chemistry, like capillary action. In the long run, this information aids in the design of chromatography setups, whether on Earth or in microgravity. Additionally, any enclosure that permits capillary action, or molecular actions of a solute, can be designed in a better way, using the knowledge gained. (NRP-1009-4, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-4, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Ladybugs in Space
Mount Carbon Elementary School, Grade 5, Littleton, CO
Ladybugs are a breed of beetle and can be identified by their red domed shell with black spots. These beneficial insects are a must-have for organic gardening or farming as they eat insects and pests that are destructive to the garden. Ladybugs primarily eat aphids, insects that suck the sap out of plants. An infestation of aphids can destroy whole gardens and decimate crops. A single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids, which means they're invaluable to farmers trying to control an aphid population without the use of harsh chemicals. At the present time experiments are being done in space to learn how to best grow food for possible colonization on Mars or future suitable planets. The ladybug may be helpful to control pests in space gardens. This investigation studies if microgravity affects the lifecycle of a ladybug. Dormant ladybug eggs, food, and other resources for growing and sustaining the ladybugs are sent to the ISS (i.e., cotton ball saturated with water, rose leaf, raisins, and honey).  Upon return to Earth, the current stages of the microgravity ladybugs are compared against the current stages of the control group ladybugs to determine any differences in their growth. (NRP-1009-7, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-7, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

How Does Microgravity Affect the Production of Synthetic Insulin?
Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School, Grade 8, Hartford, CT
The investigation studies how microgravity affects genetically modified yeast’s ability to produce insulin. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a type of yeast that when genetically modified produces synthetic insulin.  This insulin helps save a countless number of lives each year, more specifically people diagnosed with Type I and II diabetes. The investigation includes sending a sample of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the ISS, have it produce synthetic insulin, and upon return compare it to how much insulin another sample of the yeast produces here on Earth. The hypothesis is that Saccharomyces cerevisiae produces significantly more synthetic insulin on board the ISS because the genetically modified yeast may find it easier to yield the same amount of insulin than it would normally in Earth’s gravity. If it is found that there is no change or that there is a significant increase in the production of synthetic insulin, then the possibility of long-term space travel could be open to diabetics. (NRP-1009-1, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-1, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

A Comparative Study of the Effects of Microgravity on Drosophila Melanogaster
Caravel Academy, Grades 9-10, Bear, DE
This experiment tests not only how microgravity affects an organism’s body, but also how an organism born and grown in a microgravity environment would survive in Earth's gravity.  The investigation studies Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly) larvae because of their ability to become dormant in cold temperatures, common usage in biological experiments, resemblance to the human body structure, and small size. The larvae remain dormant (refrigerated) until arrival at the ISS.  After arrival, the fruit flies are exposed to the warmer temperature inside the ISS and exit reproductive dormancy and begin to grow and reproduce. After several weeks, crew members deactivate the experiment by closing one clamp to divide the flies into two populations, and then opening another clamp to introduce a fixative, permethirn-formaldehyde, to one of the populations. Upon return to Earth, the new organisms born in space are compared to a control group that has been growing in Earth’s environment and gravity.  From the data collected, the co-Investigators analyze how microgravity affected the fruit flies and if the fruit flies (that were born in microgravity) are able to survive on Earth. (NRP-1009-2, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-2, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Breakdown of Hydrogen Peroxide in Microgravity
Caesar Rodney High School, Grades 9, 11-12, Camden, DE
The Breakdown of Hydrogen Peroxide in Microgravity experiment tests the effects of microgravity on a chemical reaction. On earth, gravity acts as a force pulling the reactants together in a test tube, while in space, there is no gravity pulling the reactants together, taking longer for reactions to occur. The chemical reaction the investigation tests is the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide as the enzyme catalase breaks it down. The hypothesis is that if there is no gravity effecting the reaction, the catalase does not break down the hydrogen peroxide as much as it would on earth with the effects of gravity. After a short time, giving the reaction time to occur, a H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) solution is added to the solution so that the reaction between catalase and hydrogen peroxide is stopped for the decomposition to be measured. Back on earth, the amount of hydrogen peroxide that decomposed is measured through a titration procedure with potassium permanganate (KMnO4). The results of the experiment are compared to a control experiment conducted on earth with the same procedures, allowing the co-Investigators to observe the effects of microgravity on an enzymatic chemical reaction. (NRP-1009-5, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-5, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Operation Germination of Cottonseeds
FishHawk Creek Elementary School, Grade 5, Hillsborough County, FL
The investigation studies the affect of microgravity on the frequency rate of cottonseed germination. Cottonseeds are chosen because research indicates that the seeds can germinate on the space station. The germination of cottonseeds allows for scientists to learn more about the germination of seeds in microgravity. Cottonseed oil could also be used by humans for many reasons such as food additives, for skin care, and medicinal reasons. This could be beneficial for longer space missions. Volume 1 of the MixStix contains seven cottonseeds wrapped in felt. Volume 2 contains 5 mL of tap water from FishHawk Creek Elementary School, and volume 3 contains 7 additional seeds wrapped in felt. Cottonseeds require close contact with the material they are germinated in and tightly wrapping the seeds assists with encouraging germination. A cold pack is used for return shipping when returned to Earth. In microgravity, the early cottonseeds are activated 2 days after arrival on the space station and the second set of seeds are activated 14 days before returning to Earth. Cottonseeds have a germination rate of 7-14 days. (NRP-1009-2, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-2, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Go Nuts in Space
North High School, Grade 9, Sioux City, IA
The experiment is to conduct a commercially available peanut enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test on the ISS.  It is speculated that astronauts’ immune systems are suppressed in microgravity, as the astronauts are more likely to develop infections in space. The experiment asks, “Would allergies, another type of immune response, be suppressed as well by the effect of microgravity?” Allergies affect quality of life and cost billions of dollars in medication and hospitalization. Peanut allergies, in particular, have been increasing in number and severity for several decades. Will a person with a documented peanut allergy still develop allergic reactions in space?  An allergic person has an excess of a type of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E produced overtime, and these antibodies are bound to the mast cells of the immune system. In an allergic reaction, the antibodies bind with the allergens, and then the complex binds to a receptor on the mast cell, and causes the mast cells to release histamine. In the experiment, peanut-specific antibodies are mixed with peanut protein in the MixStix. The same test is conducted on Earth as a ground experiment. The results are compared to see if antibody-peanut binding is suppressed, enhanced, or the same in space. The results of the study reveal the impact of microgravity on allergic reactions, which in turn, help us understand more about how allergies work and to find a cure to allergies on Earth. (NRP-1009-5, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-5, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

How is the Growth of the Bacteria Rhizobium Radiobacter Affected by Microgravity?
Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School, Grade 11, Fitchburg, MA
The investigation studies how the growth of the bacteria, Rhizobium radiobacter (R. radiobacter), is affected by microgravity. R. radiobacter is a bacterium that causes “plant cancer”, also known as Crown Gall Disease. It has a portion of T-DNA that inserts itself into the plant’s DNA. This causes the plant cell to alter and expand, forming a tumor, as a result of altered cell genomes. This experiment will provide an understanding of the effects, if any, microgravity has on the growth of R. radiobacter. It investigates whether there is a change in growth rate of the bacteria, and whether the production of endotoxins is affected. Typically, the higher the level of endotoxins, the more bacterial growth there is. Therefore, this is an important factor that is analyzed after the completion of this experiment. In order to address the concern of over-growth and eventual starvation and/or death of the bacteria, a substance known as acetosyringone, which results in growth-inhibition and decreased virulence in specific strains of R. radiobacter is included. In consideration of this factor, the C58 strain of bacteria is chosen for the experiment, as the acetosyringone inhibits the growth of this particular strain of R. radiobacter. (NRP-1009-8, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-8, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

The Detriment of Microgravity on Xenopus Laevis
Marshall School, Grade 12, Duluth, MN
The investigation analyzes the effects of microgravity on Xenopus laevis embryos.  Previous NASA studies on Xenopus laevis in microgravity have investigated how to reduce oxidative damage and stress using glutathione. This investigation focuses solely on the negative effects of microgravity, so an antioxidant is not added to reduce the oxidative stress, and the effects of microgravity are analyzed. The hope is that by studying Xenopus laevis invaluable insights into the development of organisms in space is gained. (NRP-1009-6, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-6, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Yeast as a Model Organism to Study COX-2 Enzyme Production in Microgravity
Brookhaven Academy, Grade 10, Brookhaven, MS
Colorectal cancer (CRC) has affected many lives throughout the nation. Studies show that one in twenty people get CRC each year. This cancer is caused by uncontrolled cell growth in the colon, rectum, or appendix. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Statistics show that over 90% of people who get colorectal cancer die. Experiments show that the enzyme cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) is elevated in 85% of colorectal cancer patients. Aspirin has been shown to inhibit the production of COX-2 enzymes in human test studies. Overexpression of COX-2 results in inflammation and uncontrolled cell proliferation, which may lead to tumor formation. Apoptosis is a highly conserved pathway in eukaryotic organisms to promote programmed cell death (cell suicide) when cell damage can result in cancer. Yeast is often used as a model organism in cancer research. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) is used in this study due to its production of the COX-2 enzyme and its suicidal response (apoptosis) to aspirin. Microarray analysis is used to measure mRNA levels of several thousand genes in yeast, including those involved in the production of COX-2 and the initiation of programmed cell death. The specific aim of this investigation is to evaluate gene expression in S. cerevisiae by microarray analysis. Statistical analysis determines possible variances in the Earth based experiment compared to microgravity. (NRP-1009-3, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-3, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Will Sunflower Seeds Grow in Microgravity?
Crossroads Academy of Kansas City, Grades 6-7, Kansas City, MO
This investigation studies if sunflowers germinate in microgravity.  The hypothesis is that sunflower seeds germinate in microgravity.  The sunflower seeds are provided purified water and potting soil.  Onboard the ISS, crew members open the clamp introducing the water to the soil and seeds, and shake the MixStix to mix.  Sunflower seeds are chosen because they are healthy, and can be a source of food.  Upon return to Earth, the flight MixStix is analyzed to see if the seeds have grown roots and begun germination. (NRP-1009-4, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-4, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Germinating Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense L)
Johnson County Central, Grades 11-12, Johnson County, NE
If humans plan to establish permanent bases in space, they will need to be able to cultivate their own food. On earth legumes are used to fixate nitrogen into soil, making it fertile. In this experiment red clover seeds (Trifolium pratense L), cotton, potting soil, and water are used to examine how much nitrogen is produced. Upon return to Johnson County Central after its time onboard the ISS, the nitrogen levels of both the flight experiment and the control are assessed using a soil testing kit. Both ground and space experiments are planted in separate planter boxes and the nitrogen levels continue to be tested throughout the plants’ entire life cycle. The hypothesis is that red clover releases about the same quantities of nitrates after germinating in space as they would after germination on earth. This study could be a small step in creating a suitable environment in space to grow and harvest crops for future food with a bonus of medicinal purposes. Red clover seeds are chosen for the investigation because they are a legume commonly used by local farmers in Johnson County, NE, for crop rotations to enrich the soil. Could this plant be the answer for fertile soil in space? Will the red clover fixate more or less nitrates into the soil? While many studies have dealt with seed germination, none of them have addressed the symbiotic relationship between a legume and Proteobacteria. (NRP-1009-3, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-3, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Staphylococcus Epidermidis In Microgravity
Phifer Middle School, Grade 8, Pennsauken, NJ

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that is resistant to most antibiotics.  This investigation is testing if there is a change in the natural antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus Epidermidis (SE) in microgravity. SE, which is a close cousin to MRSA is less contagious and safer to handle. The hypothesis is that the bacteria has a weaker resistance against antibiotics in microgravity because the microgravity conditions on the ISS affect the bacteria negatively. The SE bacteria has to adapt to the new enviornment, allowing the antibiotics to work more effectively against the bacteria. MRSA has been sent up to the ISS to develop a potential vaccine for use on Earth, from this experiment we can learn more about SE as well as work towards developing a better cure for all types of Staph infections in space. (NRP-1009-9, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-9, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Evaporation Investigation
Thomas Edison Energy Smart Charter School, Grade 5, Somerset, NJ
The investigation answers the question, does water evaporate faster under microgravity or on earth? If water evaporates faster in microgravity, then astronauts need to consume more water to keep them healthy but, if water evaporates slower, then astronauts need to consume less water. Water is in all living things, vegetation, and our body. In a regular environment, water constantly changes its state from liquid to gas. Fruits dry, and body sweats all because water constantly evaporates. The investigation simulates water evaporation. In volume 1 of the MixStix, some cotton containing a few drops of water, and some “silica gel”(tiny, solid micro-beads) are placed. The silica gel absorbs moisture from the air within the MixStix, and forces the water from the cotton to evaporate. The same investigation run on the ISS is run on Earth. The difference in the weight of the cotton before and after the experiment determines how much water evaporated in the MixStix. The health of astronauts is heavily dependent on how fast or slow they sweat and how much water they have to drink to replenish fluids in their body. Similarly, astronauts may need to know how long foods will stay fresh to keep enough food if we were to colonize in outer space. (NRP-1009-6, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-6, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

How Does Rust Form Differently in a Microgravity Environment?
Liberty Middle School, Grade 7, West Fargo, ND
Rust during space travel is a problem. Rust weakens metals and makes them vulnerable
to other objects in space. That is a problem to space travel because valuable objects may become lost or broken. Conducting an experiment in microgravity could help this by helping engineers prepare for the future. Research has been done on this by the European Space Technology and Research Centre. They have looked at atomic oxygen corrosion in microgravity and have been successful in proving there can be corrosion or rust in a microgravity environment. There are simple factors that save lives and make space travel successful, a rust-free chassis is one of them. This experiment provides answers to the question, “How does rust form differently in a microgravity environment?” This experiment helps future generations save lives and money by making safer exteriors to aerospace crafts. This experiment using Titanium CP 1-Grade 4 in Volume 1 of the MixStix and 0.5% sodium chloride (NaCl) solution in Volume 2 investigates how rust forms differently in a microgravity environment. Upon arrival to the ISS, crew members open the clamp between the two volumes introducing the metal to the saltwater solution. (NRP-1009-7, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-7, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Does Microgravity Affect Variation of the Protein Structures Created?
Grant Union Junior/Senior High School, Grade 9, Grant County, OR
In their native gravity environment, proteins exist as three-dimensional structures. This experiment is being conducted to find out how microgravity affects the three dimensional structure of the GFP (green fluorescent protein) in Escherichia coli (E. coli). To conduct this experiment, GFP transformed into the bacteria E. coli is used. Molecular biologists commonly use the protein synthesizing capabilities of E. coli to express recombinant proteins in the 10-150 kD size range. GFP was chosen because of its barrel shape and strong hydrophobicity and its stability as a protein. Even after the bacterial cells break open, the GFP stays intact for a while or until proteases from the E.coli start chewing them up. The pH of nutrient broth is lowered to encourage misfolded proteins. Glycerol is used because it slows the bacterial growth rate, but does not damage the protein. This experiment is important because if microgravity causes a higher percentage of misfolded proteins, it could cause proteins to send the wrong message signals to cells, possibly causing short or long-term health problems. Misfolded proteins are believed to be the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, cystic fibroses and many other degenerative and neurodegenerative disorders. These diseases and disorders are slow developing and do not generally show symptoms until misfolded proteins have accumulated. Knowing if microgravity contributes to or diminishes the misfolding of GFP could help prevent long-term health problems for astronauts or provide new treatment pathways in the future. (NRP-1009-9, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-9, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Using the Statocyst System to Investigate how the Vestibular System Would Provide Orientation and Balance to Living Organisms in Microgravity
Iroquois Elementary and Junior-Senior High School, Grades 5-8, Erie, PA
The experiment tests how the vestibular system in your ear reacts in space, by using the statocyst of a sea star. Sea stars were selected because they use a statocyst to maintain equilibrium, which is driven by gravity and is similar to the otolith organs in your inner ear. If the sea star cannot maintain equilibrium for an extended period of time, it will die. The null hypothesis is that microgravity has no effect on the statocyst system and the alternative hypothesis is that microgravity has an effect on the statocyst system. To test this, three of the sea stars six legs are trimmed before loading in the MixStix and the sea stars are put in a state of dormancy (i.e., refrigeration) until arrival at the ISS, upon return to Earth their growth is measured, and an average growth is taken for each sea star. If the growth is minimal, then it can be assumed that the sea star had been allocating its energy towards orienting itself and not toward growth and reproduction (bioenergetics). If there is significant growth or reproduction, it can be assumed that the sea star was unaffected by microgravity, and it has minimally been allocating its energy towards orienting itself. The same experiment runs twice on the ground, one experiment is continually disturbed (rotated), and the other is undisturbed; since microgravity is the only variable being tested. By further investigating the effects of microgravity, the potential stress on the human body in space is better understood. (NRP-1009-7, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-7, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

Effects of Microgravity on the Efficacy of Ciprofloxacin on Escherichia Coli
Gresham Middle School, Grades 7-8, Knox County, TN
Escherichia Coli, more commonly known as E. coli, is spread through contaminated food or through contact with an infected person or carrier. Some strains are mild, while others can prove to be life threatening. Should this common illness affect astronauts, a prompt recovery would be imperative. An antibiotic can decrease the risk of complications, and eliminate the bacteria. Ciprofloxacin is commonly used, and is what is used in the experiment. By testing the efficacy in microgravity, the risk of this issue can potentially decrease. The Ciprofloxacin is introduced to the E. coli upon arrival to the ISS, and is compared to results of the ground truth experiment. (NRP-1009-5, S/N 1018; NRP-1009-5, S/N 1022) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

The Growth of Heterotrophic Algae Neochloris Oleoabundans in Microgravity
West Ridge Middle School, Grade 8, Austin, TX
The Growth of Heterotrophic Algae Neochloris oleoabundans in Microgravity experiment investigates the effect of microgravity on the growth rate and development of algae. For a long time algae have been used by labs and industries for many products, including cosmetics, nutrition, and most importantly, biofuel. Scientists predict that years from now algae may replace many limited fossil fuel reserves. Algae are also important oxygen producers as they provide two thirds of the Earth's oxygen. Because of this, the more that is known about the growth of algae, the more the world's plentiful algae reserves can be used to their greatest extent. In addition, as the prospect of long-duration spaceflight draws nearer, it is necessary to find out whether algae can be grown in these microgravity conditions as a source of fuel, nutrition, and possibly oxygen for future space colonists. The chosen algae are heterotrophic and grow in the conditions in the MixStix. The hypothesis is that the algae’s growth rate accelerates, as gravity isn't restricting the growth and division of the cells. A freeze-dried sample of the algae is sent to the ISS, the crew members provide the algae with water and glucose, beginning the growth process, and after 14 days the crew members introduce a puromycin solution preserving the results for the return trip back to Earth. (NRP-1009-1, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-1, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

What are the Effects of Hydrogel Polymers When Mixed with Water in Microgravity vs. on Earth?
The Academy at Nola Dunn, Grade 5, Burleson, TX
This investigation studies the question of what hydrogel polymers do when mixed with water in microgravity.  The hypothesis is that the polymers absorb more water due to less gravity.
Polymers are an important material as they are used in a variety of items on Earth. They are used in credit cards, bottles, spandex, eyeglasses, and first aid packs. It is important to study the polymers and their absorption because this will one day help when families, not just astronauts, are living on space stations. (NRP-1009-4, S/N 1017; NRP-1009-4, S/N 1021) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

What is the Effect of Microgravity on the Cell Division of an Onion Root?
Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Grade 5, Pharr, TX
The experiment germinates onion seeds on board the ISS and on Earth. Volume 1 of the MixStix is filled with 1 mL of distilled water. A cotton ball and three onion seeds are placed in Volume 2. Volume 3 contains the fixative glutaraldehyde. Upon arrival on the ISS, the crew members release clamp A of the microgravity experiment and the water is absorbed onto the cotton ball to begin germination. In the week before undock, the crew members open Clamp B to release the glutaraldehyde to “freeze” the experiment. When the experiment is returned to Earth, it is compared with the ground control, and the observations of the seeds and data are collected. Observations include length of roots, observation of cells for mutations, and number of cell samples that are at each stage of mitosis. Root cells of each experiment are observed under a microscope to determine the number of cells in each phase and if there are any mutations. Will there be changes in the copy of the cell? Will it form a completely new cell or mutate? The hypothesis is that the cells are not be able to divide because they are in microgravity and could possibly mutate. If it is learned that cells have a hard time dividing and mutating in space, this information could have great consequences for astronauts and other future space travelers. (NRP-1009-2, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-2, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

The Effects of Microgravity on the Rate of Plant Growth
Business Careers High School, Grade 12, San Antonio, TX
This experiment examines the differences in the rate of cell growth and division between a set of radish seeds germinated in microgravity and an identical set of seeds germinated on Earth. The seeds are kept under the same conditions with the exception of gravity. Upon return to Earth, the seedlings are cut open and examined under a microscope in order to determine what effect microgravity has on the rate of cell growth and division. (NRP-1009-3, S/N 1019; NRP-1009-3, S/N 1023) [SpX-7, SpX-8]

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Space Applications
Students design experiments using flight-approved materials, which are flown to the ISS in a NanoRacks module. 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 education. The program educates and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers who will work on the space program.

Earth Applications
Since the SSEP began in June 2010, 99 communities have taken part in 9 flight opportunities, reaching 45,970 students in grades 5-15. Students have submitted 10,443 flight experiment proposals and designed 23,825 mission patches as part of an art and design competition. The Odyssey mission includes 24 experiments selected from 2,521 team proposals, which included 10,760 students from the U.S. and Canada. So far, 25 communities have participated in two or more flight opportunities, reflecting the program’s popularity and sustainability. Students gain real-world experience in scientific investigation, problem-solving and teamwork, preparing them for careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

The MixStix are unclamped and shaken to activate/deactivate and mix fluids/solids. The MixStix are returned to student teams. Each team unseals their MixStix, harvests the samples and compares their ground truth experiments, analyzes results, and presents results at the SSEP National Conference at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

A crew member removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. The crew member unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crew member then shakes the MixStix (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix. Crew member 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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Damien High School, La Verne, CA, 12th  graders Garrett Souza, David Washington, Ashwin Balaji, Richard Conti, and Aaditya Patel examining a sample of tardigrades to ensure that the specimen is exhibiting normal locomotive functions in preparation for their experiment aboard SSEP Mission 7 flight to the ISS. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Petaluma High School, Petaluma, CA, students Morgan Giraud (left) and Tara Thomas (right) culturing algae for their experiment. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Charlie Gooding, Shrayes Raman, Samuel Buckley-Bonanno and Adam Chamas from the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District team, Santa Monica, CA, finding the correct volume of solvent to perform paper chromatography in a MixStix. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Dakota Ridge Articulation Area student researchers from Mount Carbon Elementary School, Littleton, CO, assemble their Ladybugs in Space SSEP experiment. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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A team of 9th /10th  grade student researchers from Caravel Academy, Bear, DE practice protocols for prepping the MixStix mini-lab for spaceflight. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Fifth grade student researchers from FishHawk Creek Elementary School, in Hillsborough County, FL observing cottonseeds under a microscope in preparation for the launch of their Operation Germination of Cottonseeds SSEP experiment. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Ninth grade students from North High School, Sioux City, IA, preparing their MixStix for flight to the ISS. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Jezrielle and Marina, student researchers from Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School, Fitchburg, MA, sorting bacteria cultures in pre-lab investigations. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Marshall School, Duluth, MN students prepare tank for adult Xenopus laevis frogs, whose eggs are studied in microgravity. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Student researchers from Crossroads Academy of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO prepare their experiment samples. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Johnson County Central, Johnson County, NE, Mission 7 team loading tubes for red clover germination experiment. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Phifer Middle School, Pennsauken, NJ, students are testing if there is a change in the natural antibiotic resistance in staphylococcus epidermidis, also known as SE, which is a close cousin to MRSA. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Thomas Edison Energy Smart Charter School, Somerset, NJ, student researchers inserting silica gel and preparing the MixSitx for NanoRacks. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Left to right, Abby Bueling, Skyler Manney, and Jacob Angus. Liberty Middle School, West Fargo, ND, SSEP winning team working on their experiment, “How Microgravity Affects Rusting of Iron”. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Grant Union Junior/Senior High School, Grant County, OR, ninth grade students analyzing GFP protein using SDS PAGE in support of their experiment Does Microgravity Affect Variation of the Protein Structures Created? Image courtesy of SSEP.

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The Academy at Nola Dunn, Burleson, TX, students solving the Polymer Puzzle through scientific reasoning. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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