NanoRacks–Mission Discovery Biomedical Experiments 2 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 2) - 11.22.16

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
In the International Space School Educational Trust’s Mission Discovery program, the next generation of aerospace researchers works with astronauts, flight controllers and NASA scientists to design experiments that are carried out on the International Space Station (ISS). The NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ISS Biomedical Experiments 2 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 2) is comprised of the Mission Discovery competition winners from institutions including King’s College London and Renfrewshire Council in the United Kingdom, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Valparaiso in the United States. The investigations study antibiotic use to inhibit Staphylococcus aureus bacteria; the rate at which yeast decomposes organic matter; whether steroid-enhanced plants could grow better in space than on Earth; and whether an enzyme derived from fireflies can cause bioluminescence in microgravity, among other experiments.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Chris Barber, International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET), Penarth, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Information Pending

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
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The first experiment investigates the rate of decomposition of organic matter such as apricot, oat and plain agar, by Kazachstania telluris in a microgravity environment. The strain used in this experiment is donated from the library of National Collection of Yeast Cultures, UK. The aim is to see whether the decomposition rate of organic matter is faster in space than on Earth.
  • The second experiment aims to test how microgravity affects the growth of steroid-enhanced plants. The hypothesis states that steroid-enhanced plants in space have improved qualities compared to the control experiment on Earth. In the experiment, steroid-enhanced grass seeds are grown under microgravity and gravity environments respectively.
  • The aim of the third experiment is to observe the mode of reproduction of Daphnia magna in microgravity. Daphnia magna, or water fleas, usually reproduce asexually but in extreme conditions, these water fleas reproduce sexually to increase their chances of survival. The University of Birmingham especially breeds these English Daphnia for this experiment. The hypothesis is that microgravity provides a stressful environment for the water fleas, causing them to reproduce sexually.
  • The fourth experiment aims to test whether or not antibiotics are as effective in space as they are on Earth. In the experiment, an antibiotic is used to inhibit the growth of the harmful bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) that causes conjunctivitis.
  • The fifth experiment aims to investigate the bioluminescent reaction by a catalyst called luciferase in space compared to Earth. By testing the catalytic properties of the enzyme, it provides potential information that will increase understanding of bioluminescent organisms. The hypothesis states that the reaction is more luminous in space than on Earth as previous studies have found that microgravity improves the efficiency of many enzymes in rats, mitochondria and the respiratory system. If this is correct, it serves as a starting point of a new light source in space.

Description

The NanoRacks–Mission Discovery ISS Biomedical Experiments 2 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 2) are comprised of the winners of the program, Mission Discovery, organized by the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) and Higher Orbits in collaboration with international partners, including King’s College London, Renfrewshire Council (UK), Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (USA) and University of Valparaiso (USA). Mission Discovery is a 5-day event where high school and university/college-aged students get the chance to work with Astronauts, Astronaut Instructors, Flight Controllers, NASA Leaders and Scientists and compete in teams for the chance to get their experiment carried out in space aboard the ISS. The investigation includes the winning experiments from Mission Discovery 2013 at King’s College London the winning experiment from Mission Discovery Renfrewshire 2014, and the winning experiment from Mission Discovery 2014 at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
 
Mission Discovery 2013 at King’s College London
Experiment 1: Prior to launch, agar plates are spread with Kazhastania telluris donated from the library of National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC, UK) under aseptic conditions. The agar plates are also inoculated with different food sources, including oats and apricot. This experiment consists of 2 separate plates and is placed in a NanoRacks Module for cold-stow prior to launch. Earth controls are also produced. The aim of this experiment is to compare the rate of decomposition of food by saphrophytes between in space and on Earth. In this experiment, a specific type of yeast, Kazachstania telluris (K. telluris), is used to see the effect of microgravity in the rate of decomposition of organic matter as saphrophytes live on decaying organic matter to survive. K. telluris has an optimal growth temperature of 37°C to 45°C and is capable of degrading cellulose, starch and glucose. It also has a rapid growth rate. The strain used in this experiment is safe and has not caused any problems to the human body and the environment. If the hypothesis is proved to be correct, this could potentially reduce the amount of financial cost on food disposal in space.
 
Experiment 2: Watercress/grass seeds are spread around cotton wool balls. The pieces of cotton wool are then wrapped around with nylon meshwork. This is done prior to packaging in the NanoRacks Module for cold-stow. To initiate the experiment, water is injected with or without plant sterol (24-epibrassinolide, Sigma-Aldrich ID E1641, up to 1 mM) using the provided syringe that has been connected to the medium of the plant with a butterfly cannula. A type of brassinosteroid (up to 1 mM), 24-epibrassinolide, that is naturally found in plants, is used in this experiment as numerous studies have found that it promotes stem elongation and cell division in plants. Earth controls have also been simultaneously reproduced. The aim of this experiment is to determine if steroid-enhanced plants in space grow more rapidly and larger than plants grown in the absence of steroid. This research is useful as it provides potential development of forestation on other planets and reforestation on Earth, which could produce a better quality of air.
 
Experiment 3: The Daphnia used in this experiment are donated by Professor John Colbourne and Dr. Kay Van Damme of the University of Birmingham, UK. Three different ages of Daphnia are used in this experiment to maximize their survivals in space; egg, young and old. Daphnia are packed into a small transparent container that is already filled with sufficient Scottish mineral water prior to cold-stow in the NanoRacks Module. The Daphnia then needs to be fed with 1 mL of algae every 2-3 days while in orbit. Earth controls have also been simultaneously reproduced. The aim of this experiment is to observe whether Daphnia reproduce sexually in a stressful environment like microgravity, as opposed to Earth. Ultimately, this experiment provides further information on reproduction in space and the potential effect of stress.
 
Mission Discovery Renfrewshire 2014
Experiment 4: Prior to launch, lysogeny broth (LB) and or nutrient agar plates are spread with 50 μL of Staphylococcus aureus and Optrex (soothing eye drops), chloramphenicol (antibiotic) and fusidic acid-loaded disks (antibiotic) (1 cm filter papers) are aseptically attached to a flexible lid, before cold stow. On-orbit, the crew member needs to push the filter papers down onto the agar to initiate the experiment. Photos are taken with a normal camera every 2-3 days. The experiment is complete within 10 days.
 
Mission Discovery 2014 at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Experiment 5: This investigation aims to investigate the bioluminescent reaction by a catalyst called luciferase in space compared to Earth. Luciferase, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and luciferin are placed in MixStix tube compartments. To initiate the experiment, simply break open the seal of each compartment to mix together all of the reagents. The experiment is to be done in a dark room to measure intensity of the luminosity of the experiment. The aim of this experiment determines the testing of a new light source in the microgravity environment.

^ back to top

Applications

Space Applications
When more humans live in space in the future, crews will produce more waste, require more food and rely on antibiotics to prevent infections. This investigation includes a number of investigations aimed at addressing these problems. One experiment studies saprophytes, a type of yeast that can degrade organic matter, and investigates how effectively they can break down food waste in microgravity. Another experiment studies whether plant steroids enhance grass growth, which could improve efforts to grow food in space and purify cabin air. Another investigation studies water fleas to improve understanding of how the stressful space environment can impact reproduction. Other research studies antibiotics that treat conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, an infection that currently requires a quarantine period before astronauts can launch to space. Results from these experiments benefit long-duration space missions in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

Earth Applications
The stressful environment of space may cause mutations in the genome of Daphnia magna water fleas, which may affect their ability to process nutrients. Fleas that can process excess nitrogen and phosphorus would be better suited to living in lakes polluted by agricultural runoff, benefiting ecosystems on Earth. In addition, the experiments in this investigation are designed and implemented by students, providing training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and connecting them to the space program.

^ back to top

Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

The experiment is only automated in terms of the 12 hour to 12 hour light to dark cycle by an Arduino controlled LED lighting system, powered by 4 AA batteries. Lighting is need to be turned on by adding batteries on board the ISS on day 1.
 
Due to the biological content of these investigations, they require +4ºC cold stow transport to the ISS. The data is downlinked (photos from the NanoRacks Microscope-2 and videos) and the experiments are discarded after the operations.

Experiment 1 is initiated in room temperature. Photos are taken incrementally for 30 days to determine food degradation. For Experiment 2, the grass seed needs feeding with plant steroids in spring water every 2-3 days. Photos are taken on the same basis as the feeding to see how much growth has occurred. For Experiment 3, the Daphnia needs feeding with algae in spring water incrementally up to 30 days. Videos are taken on the same basis as the feeding. Experiment 4 is initiated by the crew member. Filter papers, attached to a parafilm lid, are pushed down onto the agar plate to initiate the experiment. Photos are taken incrementally up to 2 weeks to determine whether bacterial growth has been inhibited. Experiment 5 is initiated by the crew member. The MixStix compartments are mixed during filming of a video in the dark. The experiments are complete within minutes.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Information Pending

^ back to top

Related Websites
ISSET
NanoRacks
Mission Discovery

^ back to top


Imagery

image
NanoRacks Module-51 contains experiment equipment for NanoRacks–Mission Discovery Biomedical Experiments 2 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 2). Image courtesy of NanoRacks.

+ View Larger Image


image
Some of of the equipment for the NanoRacks–Mission Discovery Biomedical Experiments 2 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 2) investigation. Image courtesy of NanoRacks.

+ View Larger Image


image
NanoRacks–Mission Discovery Biomedical Experiments 2 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 2) investigation packed in NanoRacks Module-51. Image courtesy of NanoRacks.

+ View Larger Image