NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science-Kitty Hawk (SSEP Mission 8) (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Kitty Hawk) - 07.19.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Students from grade schools through universities can bring their classrooms into space through the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program, part of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science-Kitty Hawk (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Kitty Hawk) investigation contains 15 student experiments in chemistry and life sciences, including investigations of antibiotics and probiotics, plant growth and others. The program connects students and teachers to the space program in a unique way, by allowing students to do real microgravity research programs.
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:

Principal Investigator(s)
Jeff Goldstein, Ph.D., National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, Ellicott City, MD, United States

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

Developer(s)
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, Ellicott City, MD, 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
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Kitty Hawk (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Kitty Hawk) is the tenth 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.
  • Fifteen experiments were selected from 708 student team proposals, engaging 3,290 grade 5-16 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, experience a flight safety review, work hands-on the flight certified hardware loading the flight and ground truth mini-labs and conducting the ground truth investigation while the flight experiment is conducted on International Space Station (ISS), and attend and present their results at their own science conference.

Description

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), launched by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in strategic 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 microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the ISS. In 2012, SSEP was extended to international communities through the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, NCESSE’s international arm.
 
Since inception in June 2010, there have been 10 flight opportunities – SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, which were the final flight of Space Shuttles Endeavor and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 8 to the ISS. Through SSEP Mission 8 to the ISS 124 communities from 34 states, the District of Columbia, and 4 Provinces in Canada have participated. A total of 49,250 grades 5-16 students have been immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, and student teams have submitted 11,151 flight experiment proposals. Tens of thousands more students across the entire grade K-16 pipeline were engaged in their community’s broader STEAM experience, submitting over 46,663 Mission Patch designs. 25 communities have participated in 2-6 flight opportunities reflecting the program’s popularity and sustainable nature.
 
NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Kitty Hawk (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Kitty Hawk) includes the following 15 student experiments on SpaceX-9:
 
Investigation of the Susceptibility of Escherichia coli B-strain Bacteria to Ampicillin in a Microgravity Environment
Bishop Carroll High School, Grade 10-12, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The objective of the investigation is to test the efficacy of ampicillin in a microgravity environment through the observed resistance of Escherichia coli B-strain bacteria (E. coli). The E. coli bacteria are initially cultured in a lab setting prior to filling one section of the MixStix. When in space the E. coli is released to react with ampicillin. Once the MixStix is returned, living bacteria are examined in a viable cell count technique. The collected data examine the effectiveness of ampicillin in killing Escherichia coli in a microgravity environment. (NRP-10009-4, S/N 1020)
 
Growth of Pleurotus ostreatus in Microgravity
Ryerson University, Grade 11 and 2nd year Undergraduate, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The investigation studies the effect of microgravity on the growth of the fungi Pleurotus ostreatus, commonly known as the pearl oyster mushroom. The Pleurotus ostreatus is an edible species of mushroom that is harvested three to four weeks after initial spawning. It is an ideal species for the investigation because it can grow in a wide range of temperatures (ranging from 10ºC to 35ºC) while achieving optimal growth at 25ºC. This saprotrophic fungi, Pleurotus ostreatus, has the capacity to use recyclable material from the space shuttle such as cardboard and office paper, in addition to left-over vegetation such as rice straw, as substrate by extracting nutrients from the lignocellulosic waste. While on the ISS the spores are mixed with the bedding of food and the water source for duration of nine days for cultivation. Any growth thereafter is terminated, by mixing puromycin solution with the substrate and fungi. N-acetylglucosamine is quantified to determine the amount of fungi growth. Pleurotus ostreatus was chosen because the simplicity of the experiment allows for great growth potential in microgravity, and because the success of such an experiment offers a great solution for growing edible food using waste materials that are readily available. (NRP-10009-5, S/N 1020)
 
Levels of Sphingomyelinase (ASM-2) in Caenorhabditis Elegans in Microgravity
University of Toronto Schools, Grades 8 and 12, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Muscle atrophy poses a huge problem for astronauts in prolonged spaceflight. In addition, it is a common contributor in several diseases and conditions such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), stroke and cancer. One of the most recognized contributors to muscle atrophy is oxidative stress. In a study looking at oxidation in mice with ALS, the concentrations of Acid Sphingomyelinase (ASM) increased. It has also been proven that ASM produces ceramide, a significant contributor to oxidative stress. Some studies suggest that ASM causes an increase in ceramide levels and aggravates oxidative stress but there have been very few follow-up studies. Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is a small soil nematode that has been used in biological studies due to its size and genetic similarity to humans. This investigation aims to study C. elegans’ ASM levels in microgravity on the next SSEP mission to the ISS. A ground control model runs in tandem to the one in microgravity for comparison. This experiment could prove useful in determining whether ASM contributes to muscle atrophy in spaceflight. Muscle atrophy is a large problem in spaceflight and in several diseases, and the goal of this experiment is to find a way to study its mechanisms. This research could open doors for further research on ASM and its role in muscle atrophy, and therefore has positive implications in the future. (NRP-10009-6, S/N 1020)
 
Investigation of Water Absorption
Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School, Grade 6, Santa Ana, CA
The investigation asks, does microgravity affect the water absorption of hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate). Water absorption and maintaining moisture are important in space because there are only a limited amount of water sources on the ISS and maintaining moisture levels in microgravity environments help the astronaut’s daily lives. Hyaluronic acid is found in the eyes and joints and in many types of skin care products in order to provide moisture to the skin, heal wounds, and soothe burns or sores. It is also used in nasal sprays as vehicles that carry medicine into the body. There are many benefits for using hyaluronic acid on the ISS. Research shows that the astronauts’ aging process increases in microgravity and their skin gets very dry and itchy. Therefore, using hyaluronic acid would help their lives become more comfortable in space. The investigation studies the water absorption property of hyaluronic acid in microgravity and on earth. MixStix Volume 1 holds 4 mL of distilled water, Volume 2 holds 0.5 grams of hyaluronic acid powder, and Volume 3 holds 1 dry ball of cotton. When Volume 1 and 2 are introduced the hyaluronic acid powder absorbs the water when the MixStix is shaken. When Volume 3 is unclamped, the cotton ball absorbs the remaining water that was not absorbed by the hyaluronic acid powder. Upon return to Earth the difference in weight of the hyaluronic acid gel is measured to learn how much water the powder can absorb on earth and in microgravity. (NRP-10009-7, S/N 1020)
 
Microgravity's Effect on Raphanus sativus Seed Germination
Vista Magnet Middle School, Grade 6, Vista, CA
Helping plants grow in microgravity results in having edible food to consume on long space missions. The purpose of the experiment is to determine the effect of microgravity on Raphanus sativus seed germination by quantifying the root growth and curvature. The hypothesis is if the Raphanus sativus seed germinates in microgravity, the root curvature angles will be greater and the root length will be shorter than the ones from the ground truth experiment. Willow water and honey mix are used to make powerful enzymes and salicylic acid, which rapidly promotes root growth. The rooting hormone’s job is to help the Raphanus sativus seed’s growth after germination. The Raphanus sativus seeds are stratified cold in the freezer for 4 weeks. The freezer represents winter. Then the Raphanus sativus seeds are placed in Rockwool soil. The Rockwool soil represents the warm ground, a kind of warm blanket for the seedling. Formalin is used to help preserve the experiment after germination. When the flight MixStix returns to Earth, data from both the flight and ground truth Mixstix are compared for any differences and to determine if the hypothesis is supported. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1020)
 
Will seeds germinate within a microgravity environment and in which direction will they germinate?
Delaware State University, Grade 15, Dover, DE
As we know, seeds germinate upwards on the earth. The seeds actually use gravity to tell them which way is up. They grow upwards even in complete darkness. But, how about in the microgravity environment? Do seeds germinate in a particular direction? If yes, in which direction do they grow? Seeds are observed after return to earth to determine if they germinated as well in microgravity as they do on the ground. The number of seeds that germinate to the ‘air direction’ are counted to know if seeds germinate toward random direction or toward the air direction. Observations are made to determine if the plants start to grow sideways and then change their direction of growth when they hit the side of the MixStix. Turnip seeds were chosen because their shoot is straight, which makes it easier to determine the direction of germination. In this investigation, a Type 3 MixStix is used. In the middle Volume of the MixStix, water is placed, to make the seeds germinate. In Volume 1 of the MixStix, dry soil with plant seeds and air are needed. In Volume 3 of the MixStix is 70% ethanol to stop the growth of seeds before the return to earth. In this way, the results depend only on the growth situation in microgravity. (NRP-10009-9, S/N 1020)
 
Effect of Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 on Collagen Integrity in Microgravity
Treasure Valley Mathematics and Science Center, Grade 7, Boise, ID
Rapid skin aging, impaired wound healing, and bone loss are harmful conditions that astronauts experience after exposure to microgravity (Blaber, 2010; Vernikos, 2010). Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), which is released into the extracellular matrix because of microgravity induced oxidative stress, is crucial to these phenomena, since it cleaves collagen, an essential component of skin, cartilage, and bones (Nagase, 2006). In this investigation, collagen is submerged in physiological buffer with and without MMP-1 in microgravity and concurrently on Earth. Collagen destruction (a potential marker of adverse health effects from space) is assessed from both environments at the end of six weeks to derive and compare the amount of MMP-1 induced cleavage per given amount of MMP-1. The hypothesis is there is higher collagen cleaving per unit MMP-1 in microgravity than on Earth. Results are analyzed by: collagen weight measurements taken after lyophilization, imaging using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and quantification of structural change via sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). This investigation if believed to be the first to compare collagenolysis per unit MMP-1 in microgravity and on Earth. Since collagen is integral to the structure of connective tissue (skin, tendon, bone, cartilage, vessels, and basement membranes) (Chung, 2004), elucidation of collagen degradation rate aids the current understanding of astronauts’ ailments. The investigation brings medicine closer to mitigating these ailments in the future, and advances the sciences of mechanotransduction and tensegrity by examining the effects of external mechanical forces (chiefly gravity) on cellular structure. (NRP-10009-1, S/N 1024)
 
How does Microgravity Affect the Storage of Probiotics Medicine?
Parkland Magnet Middle School, Grade 7, Montgomery County, MD
On Earth, probiotics medication contains Lactobacillus acidophilus cells, the same bacteria found in the human gut. This experiment explores what happens to probiotics when exposed to microgravity and the slight radiation experienced in space: will it increase the Lactobacillus growth produced, or kill the cells? The same medication is kept in the same MixStix on Earth, and contains two different types: liquid probiotics solution, and tablets (the same serving size of each). After the storage period is over and the space probiotics comes back to Earth, all probiotics are cultured into several Petri dishes and kept contained in an incubator for about 2 weeks. The Petri dishes are inspected to compare which grows the most number of Lactobacillus colonies. The results of the collected data answer how space travel affects the storage of probiotics. Space travel is the future; fully functional medicine is needed to make sure astronauts stay healthy. (NRP-10009-2, S/N 1024)
 
Hot Pepper Power!
Chesapeake Math & IT Elementary School, Grade 5, Prince George's County, MD
Research indicates that hot peppers can fight bacteria, this could be beneficial to astronauts in space. Therefore, this investigation answers, “Does a microgravity environment impact the seed germination of hot peppers?” with the purpose of finding alternative food sources for astronauts. If hot pepper seeds germinate in microgravity, the peppers could also be used to help fight bacteria. This will keep astronauts healthy. Hot pepper seeds, soil, and distilled water are sent into space in a type 3 MixStix to be mixed while onboard the ISS. Those seeds sent to the ISS are compared to seeds germinated on Earth. The purpose of the experiment is to compare and contrast the germination of the hot peppers in a gravity and microgravity environment. Hot peppers can provide great benefits to astronauts in space. (NRP-10009-3, S/N 1024)
 
The Shape and Growth of Small Mushrooms in Space
Notre Dame de Sion School, Grade 5, Kansas City, MO
Mushrooms are a healthy and delicious food that can be grown in many environments. They don’t require much light or heat and, according to power of mushrooms website, morels are a great source of important vitamins like vitamin B2, niacin equivalents, pantothenic acid, biotin, folate, and some have vitamin D. According to the same site, they also have important minerals like copper, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and chromium. If these wonderfully nutritious fungi are adaptable enough to grow in space, then astronauts will be able to enjoy this amazing source of flavorful nutrition extending the duration and improving the quality of life for astronauts now and in the future. The investigation is designed to compare the growth rate of morels both on Earth and in a microgravity environment. Mushrooms were chosen both because of their intense meaty flavors, and their overall usefulness as organisms for this research because many fungi do not have the same intensive requirements for light that green plants do. It stands to reason that because fungi are decomposers they could also be used to break down organic waste-products produced by astronauts so we do not have to continue to pollute space the same way we have polluted the environment here on Earth. (NRP-10009-4, S/N 1024)
 
The Ladybug Cycle
Jerome Dunn Academy, Grade 8, Elizabeth, NJ
The investigation analyzes the effect of microgravity on the life cycle of a ladybug. Under normal gravitational conditions, if there is enough protein-based food and the temperature is favorable, a ladybug lays eggs about 2-3 months after fertilization. The eggs hatch in 3-7 days and the larvae emerge. After 2-4 weeks in this stage, the larva changes into a pupa. A mature ladybug emerges in 5-7 days. In total, it takes between 17 days and 6 weeks from the time an egg is laid to maturity. If the environment is changed, will these insects go through the same order of development in the same order at the same pace? Although this is only one species of the beetle family, this specific creature can help us understand how beetles, in general, react to microgravity. (NRP-10009-5, S/N 1024)
 
How does Microgravity Affect the Germination of Pot Mum Seeds?
PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington, Grade 6, New York (Intrepid), NY
The investigation studies if microgravity affects the germination and growth of pot mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) seeds by comparing seeds grown on the International Space Station to seeds grown on Earth. The purpose of determining the impact of microgravity on the growth of Chrysanthemum morifolium is to help future astronauts to grow plants in space as plants can be used to produce oxygen and clean the air of spacecraft. (NRP-10009-6, S/N 1024)
 
The Effect of Microgravity on Bacterial Biofilm Formation on Soft Contact Lenses
New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math, Grade 5, New York City, NY
Contact lenses offer a better range of vision than glasses and don’t get fogged up in rainy weather, so nearly 36 million Americans use them (American Academy of Opthalmology, 2011). They improve vision by refracting and refocusing light. Lenses float on the tear film layer on the cornea and are kept in place by fluid and eyelid pressure (CooperVision, undated). This investigation focuses on soft contact lenses, which are made out of hydrogel, a polymer that absorbs water (Ivanova et al, 2015). One issue with soft contact lenses is bacterial infections. Microorganisms stick to the contact lens and when it is put on the eye, they transfer to the surface of the cornea (Willcox and Holden, 2001). From there, they go further into the cornea, and produce permanent damage in its deeper layers (Ibid). Even more harmful are biofilms. A biofilm is an "assemblage of surface-associated microbial cells that is enclosed in an extracellular polymeric substance matrix” (Donlan and Costerton, 2002). When bacteria form biofilms on contact lens surfaces, they become resistant to host defenses, disinfectants, and antibiotics and thus are much more harmful than other infections (Willcox, 2013). In fact, in a study of 100 patients, 52% found that their “contact lens care systems,” consisting of the case and disinfecting solution, was infected with bacteria (Donzis et al, 2014). This is a prevalent problem for contact lens wearers. This experiment investigates the effect of microgravity on biofilm formation in contact lenses. It is predicted that it will be harder for biofilms to form in a microgravity scenario. (NRP-10009-7, S/N 1024)
 
Effects of Microgravity on Lactobacillus Growth
Milton L. Olive Middle School, Grade 8, Suffolk, NY
It is hypothesized that lactobacillus reproduces faster in microgravity. The human body contains it in various places, including the digestive tract and female reproductive system, with homeostasis being important for health. Knowing astronauts in space cannot travel to a hospital, maintaining their health is very important, especially on extended stays in microgravity. NASA’s recognition of this is shown through Scott Kelly staying on the ISS for one year while his twin brother stays on the Earth. Comparisons will be made between the two after Scott returns to Earth to identify factors to be managed. Similarly, two apparatus’ will be used in this investigation. One will be on the Earth (‘ground truth’ - with gravity), while the other will be aboard the ISS (microgravity). The bacteria will be in a dormant state (freeze dried) so it can be rehydrated on orbit using a solution of 10% sucrose in distilled water. To ensure the bacteria grow only in space, Formalin will be used to stop growth and preserve the bacteria. Upon return to Earth, a polarizing microscope with a live/dead stain will be used to identify the concentration of lactobacillus between the two apparatus’. A flow cytometer will also be used to get a more detailed analysis of the concentration and other characteristics of the cells. A flow cytometer has been made available by Farmingdale State University. If the experiment conducted in space has more bacteria than the one on earth, the hypothesis will be proven correct. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1024)
 
The Effect of Microgravity on How Detergent Cleans a Cotton Cloth
Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center, Grade 6, Suffolk, NY
Laundry is a problem in space. The investigation will study how microgravity affects how effectively polymer beads clean oil stained cloth. This is a major problem on the ISS due to the lack of water for washing clothing. A solution to this problem could be the use of polymer beads, which use a minimal amount of water to be activated. The way polymers work is when the water goes into the polymers they expand to trap the stains and keep your clothes clean. The investigation will determine if the polymer beads are as affective in microgravity as on Earth at cleaning the cloth. (NRP-10009-9, S/N 1024)

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Applications

Space Applications
Under NCESSE’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, students in grade schools through college undergraduates design experiments that address major challenges of living and working in space. Experiments address seed germination and growth of food crops; the effectiveness of antibiotics and probiotics aimed at safeguarding health; microgravity’s effects on water absorption and cell biology; and more. Additionally, the program connects students with the ISS in a meaningful way, inspiring the next generation of aerospace workers.

Earth Applications
Since its founding in 2010, the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program has enabled more than 49,000 students from 34 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces to take part in real space station research. Tens of thousands of students participate in designing experiments, writing proposals and designing mission patches. Many communities have joined the program more than once, reflecting its popularity. The SSEP gives students real-world experience in scientific investigation, problem solving, teamwork, project management and many other life skills. The program is a unique opportunity to implement a high-caliber science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program tailored to communities across North America.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
On designated operation days A=0, A+2, U-14, U-5 and U-2, where A=Arrival and U=Undock, 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 (as directed). 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. 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.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NanoRacks
NCESSE
SSEP

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Imagery

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Grade 9 student Alice Vlasov, University of Toronto Schools, observing C. elegans in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Roy of the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Grade 6 Student Researchers, Karsyn Lee, Victoria Arseneault, and Lexie Kondo, from Vista Magnet Middle School in Vista, CA prepare to germinate seeds for a pre-lab investigation. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Grade 7 Student Researchers Brynne Coulam and Catherine Ji from Treasure Valley Mathematics and Science Center in Boise, ID prepare samples of collagen and MMP-1 for preliminary ground experimentation. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Grade 7 Student Alana McCarthy Light, Parkland Magnet Middle School in Montgomery County, MD, conducting a trial for her SSEP Proposal about the storage of probiotics medicine in microgravity. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Student Researchers from Chesapeake Math & IT Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD are engaged in testing their experiment to set final sample volumes for their flight experiment on the germination of hot pepper seeds. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Student researchers Dana Ahmand, Sundous Aljahmi, Joshua Feliciano, Jiahao Guan and Joyce Wong at PS/IS 30 (NYC DoE) examining the flight certified hardware, the MixStix, for the first time with science teacher Mr. Tubbs. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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Lilia Parrilla (left), Harpaven Dhaliwal (center), and Princess Pereira (right) from Milton L. Olive Middle School in Wyandanch School District in Suffolk, NY assess a microscope on its usefulness versus a flow cytometer for their lactobacillus acidophilus reproduction experiment. Image courtesy of SSEP.

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