BRIC-LED Tech Demo (BRIC-LED-001) - 02.07.18

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The purpose of the BRIC-LED Tech Demo (BRIC-LED-001) investigation is to demonstrate the use of light emitting diodes (LED) as a lighting source in the Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) hardware, and to evaluate its functionality in growing plants in a closed system. Arabidopsis thaliana plants are grown for 10 days on the International Space Station (ISS) at ambient temperature, with light provided by the new LED lighting in the new hardware.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Anna-Lisa Paul, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: BRIC-LED-001

Principal Investigator(s)
Howard G. Levine, Ph.D., NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States

Anna-Lisa Paul, Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, United States
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Space Life and Physical Sciences (NASA Research-SLPS)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • In the BRIC-LED Tech Demo (BRIC-LED-001) investigation, 30 Columbia-0 wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana seeds are planted inside each Petri Dish Fixation Units (PDFU) of 6 Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) units.
  • Each BRIC unit contains 6 PDFUs, each fitted with LED growth lights for the plants.
  • BRIC units are launched in Cold Stowage, and integrated into a BRIC rack on the ISS for experiment start.
  • Once integrated, plants are grown for 10 days. Lights are on for 4 hours, and off for 2 hours, and applied at 60umol/m2/s.
  • After 10 days, plates are fixed with RNAlater using the PDFUs internal hardware.
  • BRICs are then stored in the Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) before return via cold stowage.


The BRIC-LED Tech Demo (BRIC-LED-001) investigation is run to validate hardware for future scientific research use. The BRIC hardware (Biological Research In Canisters) has been utilized for experiments on both the Space Shuttle and the ISS. The hardware is a passive experimental container that requires minimal crew time dedicated to the experiment. While BRIC has always been useful for small specimens, it has never before allowed plant growth under lighted conditions. The BRIC-LED hardware adds the capability to grow plants for a short duration under applied light.
This experiment focuses on growth studies of the Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia-0. 60mm round petri plates are sown with approximately 30 seeds. Plates are then integrated into the Petri Dish Fixation Units (PDFU) in a sterile environment. The PDFUs are integrated into the BRIC-LED canisters and stored at 4° Celsius prior to transport to the International Space Station (ISS). The BRIC-LED canisters are then transferred to the ISS via a SpaceX Dragon Cargo Vehicle inside of cold stowage containers. Upon arrival and unpacking, the BRIC-LED hardware is set up and started aboard the ISS. The experiment consists of growing plants at room/station ambient temperature, with a light cycle of 4 hours on, 2 hours off. Lights are applied with 85% red/15% blue concentrations at a rate of 60umol/m2/sec.
After 10 days of growth, a crew member chemically fixes the samples by activating the plunger in each PDFU. The plunger releases RNAlater into the petri dish portion of the PDFU. This allows plants to be fixed on orbit, and later studied on the ground. Six-24 hours after fixation, BRIC units are transferred to the Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) for cold stowage until departure. The BRIC-LED experiment returns to Earth aboard the same SpaceX Dragon Cargo Vehicle. After return, future ground-based studies will be performed in order to evaluate the growth of various organisms (plants, microbes and invertebrates) on the ISS.

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Space Applications
The BRIC-LED is a biological research system that is being designed to complement the capabilities of the existing BRIC-PDFU (Petri Dish Fixation Unit) for the Space Life and Physical Sciences (SLPS) Program. BRIC-LED continues to support a diverse range of organisms, including plant seedlings, cell cultures, microbes, and others. What differentiates this hardware is the inclusion of customizable, discrete illumination of the individual 60 mm Petri dishes. As a baseline configuration, 4 different wavelengths of LEDs are available for each Petri dish (blue, red, far-red and white). Light intensity and on/off cycling are configured as specified by the investigator. The hardware design is flexible enough to substitute LED packages that include non-default wavelengths. Temperatures are controlled, using forced air-cooling, to ± 3°C of the surrounding air temperature, with no more than a 1.5°C differential between canisters. Additionally, the BRIC-LED monitors and logs temperature, LED status, canister pressure, and accelerometer data.

Earth Applications
As with all basic research, an improved understanding of basic growth phenomena has important implications for improving growth and biomass production on Earth, and thus benefits the average citizen.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
After unpacking canisters from the cold bag, the canisters are installed in the BRIC-LED Facility. The Payload Developer on the ground initiates the experiment once command and control capability is provided by the Payload Rack Officer (PRO). The experiment is run for 10 days, at which point the canisters are actuated by the crew. After 6 hours the canisters are moved to MELFI until stowage for return on a SpaceX Dragon Cargo Vehicle.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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