NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science-Casper (SSEP Mission 10) (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Casper) - 07.19.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science-Casper (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Casper) investigation consists of 11 K-12 student microgravity experiments that examine polymers, antibiotics, micro-aquatic life and other multi-cellular organisms, plant growth, and more. Bound for the International Space Station, the student experiments combine curiosity, creativity and science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) excellence to address core NASA challenges of protecting life and equipment during long-term space travel. Many of the experiments specifically query the critical role of gravity in basic biological processes, such as when a caterpillar must hang upside down to become a butterfly, or examine how microgravity affects basic chemical reactions such as the rusting of metal.
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
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
49/50,51/52

Previous Missions
Information Pending

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Casper (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Casper) investigation is the twelfth 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 DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks, LLC.
  • Eleven experiments were selected from 685 student team proposals, engaging 3,660 grade 5-16 students in microgravity experiment design.
  • 7,877 grade K-12 students were engaged, and 7,877 patch designs were submitted in the community‚Äôs broader STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) mission patch experience.
  • 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 with the flight certified hardware loading the flight and ground truth MixStix and conducting the ground truth investigation while the flight experiment is conducted on 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 DreamUp PBC and 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 International Space Station (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 12 flight opportunities–SSEP on STS-134 and STS-135, which were the final flights of Space Shuttles Endeavor and Atlantis; and SSEP Missions 1 through 10 to the International Space Station (ISS). Through SSEP Mission 10 to the ISS 134 communities from 37 states, the District of Columbia, and 4 Provinces in Canada have participated. Over 64,800 grades 5-16 students have been immersed in microgravity experiment design and proposal writing, and student teams have submitted over 14,300 flight experiment proposals. Over 100,000 more students across the entire grade K-16 pipeline were engaged in their community’s broader STEAM experience, submitting over 65,700 Mission Patch designs. Twenty-eight communities have participated in 2-7 flight opportunities reflecting the program’s popularity and sustainable nature.
 
NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Casper (NanoRacks-NCESSE-Casper) includes the following 11 student experiments on SpaceX-11:
 
Testing the formation of a polymer in microgravity
Camden Fairview High School, Grade 9, Camden, Arkansas
In microgravity, how does the formation of molecules into a solid affect the general characteristics of the finished solid? A polymer comprised of liquid borax, dry borax, and polyvinyl acetate is created. These ingredients are mixed into a polymer without heat or extensive effort. The investigation is conducted in both microgravity and gravity and the resulting polymers are compared. Upon return of the polymer created on the ISS, measurements of its general characteristics, such as buoyancy in water, and tensile strength are observed and general differences in said characteristics of the two polymers are recorded. Tensile strength in lb/in² of both polymers is tested using an Electro Hydraulic Testing Machine, which is owned and operated by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Camden Arkansas Operatives. Knowing how these molecules react and form their molecular chains in microgravity could give access to a wide range of knowledge on molecules and how they behave when they lack the amount of gravity on Earth. In conclusion, the conduction of this experiment could possibly reveal many things about polymers formed in microgravity. (NRP-10009-1, S/N 1029)
 
 
Does the structure of a fairy shrimp change in microgravity?
C.W. Dillard Elementary School, Grade 5, Elk Grove, California
Does the structure of fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lindahli) change when grown in microgravity? Will the structure be normal or will there be deformities? Up to 8 fairy shrimp cysts are sent to the ISS. The hypothesis is that the fairy shrimp grown on earth are stronger and bigger than the fairy shrimp grown in space. Since there is no gravity in space the fairy shrimp won’t have to use their body as much and won’t build up muscles. The heart may be deformed and not as muscular because it does not need to pump as hard as the fairy shrimp hearts on Earth. The muscles are much smaller and less efficient in microgravity than on Earth. However, if fairy shrimp grow and mature normally in microgravity, then other invertebrates may grow normally and some of those invertebrates could be a food source. (NRP-10009-1, S/N 1028)
 
 
The Effects of Microgravity on Oxidation
Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School, Grade 11, Westlake Village, California
The investigation observes the effects of microgravity on the formation of iron oxide. Iron (III) Oxide (Fe2O3) forms when oxygen and water react with iron to create a brittle, crusty, and often reddish orange substance commonly referred to as “rust”. Iron alloy, is a commonly used material for space exploration. Non stainless steel is prone to rusting. Volume 1 of the MixStix contains a 3mm by 63mm rod of iron secured into the end cap with epoxy. Volume 2 contains 2 mL of distilled water. Upon return to Earth, three tests are conducted and the results compared to a ground truth experiment. The first test involves observing rust under a microscope to determine any obvious structural differences. Also to be compared is the frangibility of the two samples. The third test looks at how much rust grew in comparison to the control and how deep the rust penetrated into the iron rod. By studying and directly comparing earth and space grown iron oxide, the hope is to provide insight on oxidation in microgravity conditions and further the study of materials used in space. (NRP-10009-2, S/N 1029)
 
 
Benefits of Mint
Lennox Middle School, Grade 8, Lennox, California
How does microgravity affect the germination of a mint plant? The hypothesis is that the mint plant germinates faster in microgravity than on Earth. Mint is a medical herb that cures aches. If the germination of mint is successful in microgravity, then mint could be used to help astronauts when they get sick or have pain. Mint also has many impressive medical reliefs. It relieves muscle, joint, stomach, head, and toothaches. Mint can be used with tea to cure coughs and colds. The scent is also helpful for nausea and fainting. Mint can be a great help for astronauts in case of an emergency or an unexpected injury. Mint is also a fast growing plant. (NRP-10009-3, S/N 1029)
 
 
Growth and Development of Fathead Minnows in Microgravity
Everett Meredith Middle School, Grade 6, Middletown, Delaware
The purpose of the investigation is to find out how the fathead minnows thrive in a habitat completely different than their ancestors. Fathead minnows were chosen because they have been known to thrive in many different habitats. Also, the fathead minnow is small so they fit well within the MixStix. The question to be addressed is: Can Fathead minnows develop and grow in space? Can they swim? Will they eat? The investigation addresses the question posed because it is based on how minnows develop and live in space. Minnow eggs that have not hatched are sent into space. Upon return observations include, did the Fathead minnows hatch? Did they develop? If they developed did they do so normally, as they do on Earth? (NRP-10009-2, S/N 1028)
 
 
Possible Effects of Microgravity on Development of Dictyostelium discoideum
Lansing Middle School, Grade 7, Lansing, Kansas
The investigation aims to observe the effects of microgravity on the development of Dictyostelium discoideum (D. discoideum), a type of cellular slime mold. D. discoideum can be used to model a human fetus in the early stages of development. The experiment is very simple: The interior of a Type-Two MixStix is coated with one millimeter of non-nutrient agar; Volume 1 contains a sample of D. discoideum; Volume 2 also contains a small colony of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, grown on Earth prior to launch, providing food for the slime mold. In space, the first clamp is opened and the amoebas venture out and feed on the bacteria. However, the bacteria do not have a food source, and stop multiplying. As a result, the D. discoideum also run out of food (the bacteria). This starvation triggers the reproductive cycle where the individual amoebae aggregate and form a slug for migration and eventually into a spore-releasing stalk. During the early stages of this process, the mound of cells is very similar to a human fetus in early development. Later, the second clamp is opened allowing formalin to preserve the cells and prevent further development. Observing this process allows observation of possible effects of microgravity on human reproduction in space for long, interplanetary or even interstellar missions. (NRP-10009-3, S/N 1028)
 
 
Bacterial Motility in Microgravity
University of Maryland, College Park, Undergraduate, Prince George’s County, Maryland
Long-term space habitation poses numerous issues for astronaut health, including the prevention and treatment of infectious disease. NASA has made public its concern for the threat posed by infectious bacteria to long-term manned missions, and has conducted experiments on the ISS to determine how microgravity affects pathogens. The prior research suggests that bacterial motility, a crucial component of many infections, is increased aboard the ISS. This study seeks to confirm these findings and elucidate which bacterial genes specifically are responsible for modified motility, in the hope of better understanding how disease-causing pathogenic bacteria act in space. Dormant bacterial spores of Bacillus subtilis are sent to the ISS, where they will be activated, allowed to grow and divide, and then preserved in microgravity before returning to Earth. The investigation explores if microgravity causes the bacteria to express (activate or deactivate) their genes differently compared to an identical control sample grown on Earth. This change is recorded in the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) produced by the bacteria, and any changes in the number of mRNA molecules and the individual sequence codes of each mRNA strand can be determined using RNA sequencing. The sequence data can then be processed via high-throughput bioinformatic techniques, allowing determination of which bacterial genes are differentially expressed in microgravity, and the molecular pathways that underlie them. This study sheds light on how bacterial motility differs in space, and serve as a critical step in safeguarding astronauts from acquiring infectious disease. (NRP-10009-4, S/N 1028)
 
 
Soybean Germination in Microgravity
John C. Vanderburg Elementary School, Grade 5, Clark County, Nevada
Does microgravity affect the germination of soybeans in space? The human body uses certain organs for support, but in microgravity their purpose suddenly isn’t needed as much. In space, the balance between cells that make the bone and the cells that break the bone down become uneven. Calcium and other minerals that build the bones leach out and make the bone weaker. Two hundred fifty grams of soybeans is 50% of the daily calcium a person needs. Astronauts lose 1-2% of bone mass each month in space and muscle mass can be lost at rates as high as 5% each week. Soybeans help reduce muscle and bone loss, which is why this project is so important. (NRP-10009-5, S/N 1028)
 
 
Tiny Wings of Glory
Kent Place School, Grades 5 and 7, Summit, New Jersey
The investigation involves the growth and life cycle of Vanessa Cardui (Painted Lady) butterflies in microgravity. Gravity plays a part in the metamorphosis process of butterflies because the butterflies have to suspend upside-down in order to pupate correctly. Since there is no up or down in microgravity, the cocoons may have a hard time being able to flourish and grow. If the Painted Lady butterfly is sent up to space and goes through its life cycle successfully, the knowledge gained may be very beneficial for the growth of plants in space. The butterflies start in the experiment as eggs and take about 10 days to hatch. If the butterflies are able to survive in the microgravity environment, they could serve as pollinators, leading to healthy seed and fruit production. Plants provide food and also turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, which could help oxygen levels for the astronauts on the ISS. On Earth, we are currently observing the Painted Lady butterflies, to provide sense of the normal life cycle of a butterfly. Sending butterflies up to space could ultimately lead to great gains within future space travel. (NRP-10009-6, S/N 1028)
 
 
Role of Gravity in Flatworm Regeneration
Harmony Science Academy Houston High, Grade 10, Houston, Texas
How does gravity affect flatworm regeneration? A flatworm is able to regenerate various parts of its body after being completely severed from those parts because of its use of stem cells, which have the ability to turn generalized cells into any kind of cells and proliferate, eventually re-growing specific organs or body parts. This investigation examines how flatworms regenerate in space, a no gravity environment, compared to Earth. The purpose of the experiment is to investigate if regeneration in a microgravity environment is more proficient than an environment with gravity. The insight of this can open new doors for regenerative medicine and health science. As of right now, we have no way of curing terminal diseases or other issues such as blindness, however, if there is a large advancement in regenerative medicine we could use it to better our technology used to cure other diseases. Thus, it would be useful to test how regeneration works in different environments to better understand regenerative medicine. NRP-10009-7, S/N 1028)
 
 
Antibiotic Effectiveness in Microgravity: the Good, the Bad and the Astronaut
Southside High School, Grade 11, San Antonio, Texas
Becoming an astronaut involves rigorous training to prepare for the many challenges they face during their mission. Astronauts are prepared both physically and mentally. One aspect that has been neglected in previous research is a thorough study of antibiotic effectiveness. While astronauts typically have exceptional health, it is important to study how antibiotics affect the human microbiome as we progress towards future space exploration and possible colonization of Mars. This experiment aids in our understanding of how to maintain optimal health of future space explorers following an infection. A common side effect of antibiotic use is the killing of advantageous bacteria in the digestive tract. These beneficial bacteria aid in human digestion. Recent research has examined the effect of antibiotics on the beneficial bacteria within the human microbiome. The microbiome is defined as the symbiotic microorganisms that live in the human body. Approximately 10-100 trillion microorganisms live inside the average human. Recent studies have shown that the microbiome is an integral part of maintaining optimal physical and mental health. However, when a person takes antibiotics, there are changes that occur in the microbial population of the gut. These changes are often associated with mild to moderate digestive distress, which may require special probiotic supplements to the individual’s diet. As space exploration continues maintaining optimal physical and mental health of the human population is of the utmost importance. (NRP-10009-8, S/N 1028)

^ back to top

Applications

Space Applications
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a high-impact educational outreach program that promotes STEM education throughout the United States and Canada and helps NASA achieve its participatory exploration goals. The experiments aboard NanoRacks-NCESSE-Casper provide an immersive STEM learning experience for thousands of K-12 students and build connections between commercial, academic, non-profit and government partners. NanoRacks-NCESSE-Casper experiments also utilize student curiosity optimized through science competition to answer basic science questions that experts might not otherwise formulate.

Earth Applications
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a high-impact educational outreach program that promotes STEM education throughout the United States and Canada and helps NASA achieve its participatory exploration goals. To date, more than 64,800 students from 37 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces have taken part in real space station research through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. The SSEP provides an immersive STEM learning experience for thousands of K-12 students and builds connections between commercial, academic, non-profit and government partners. SSEP also utilizes student curiosity optimized through science competition to answer basic science questions that experts might not otherwise formulate.

^ back to top

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) to mix the samples thoroughly. Repeat for all MixStix (as directed). Crew member notes the time of MixStix interaction and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with Velcro tabs. The MixStix are returned to the student teams. Each team unseals their MixStix, harvests the samples and compares to their ground MixStix, analyzes the results, and presents those results at the SSEP National Conference at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Information Pending

^ back to top

Related Websites
NanoRacks
NCESSE
SSEP
DreamUp

^ back to top


Imagery

image
Student Researchers (left to right) Hope Hesterly, Lexi Bettis, Piper Fain, Alexis Bryant, and Trey Jeffus from Camden, Arkansas working with their SSEP experiment. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
C.W. Dillard Elementary School scientists Mason Maroney, Josue Escobar, Teacher Mike Nelson, Sean Rowing and Dulcemaria Rodriguez from Elk Grove, CA analyze the first in a series of trials testing the hatch rate and growth of fairy shrimp. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Co-Principal Investigators Kai Turner, Alec Lewis and Dustin Fields from iLEAD Consortium, CA working on calculations in the lab. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Lennox Middle School Flyers, Nayeli Salgado, Marina Pimetel, Ernesto Bueno, and Kaetlyn Gaeta from Lennox, CA conducting a preliminary test of the experiment's materials and volumes. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Middletown, DE 7th grade scientists work on loading their MixStix in advance of their mission. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
The winning SSEP team from Lansing Middle School in Lansing, Kansas. Clockwise from right: Vinay Patel, Aaron Brown, Calista McPherson, and Geoffrey Stentiford. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Yaniv Kazansky, Aaron Solomon, and Garshasb Soroosh (left to right) perform a test loading of their MixStix to optimize the volumes needed in their experiment. Photo credit: Faye Levine, Graphic Designer at UMD CMNS Communications. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Students from Clark County, NV conducting a preliminary ground experiment to select the number and variety of soybean to be used, and the amount of distilled water and liquid fertilizer to be included. From left to right: Shani Abeyakoon, Kendall Allgower and Avery Sanford. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Kent Place students from Summit, NJ are preparing the Vanessa cardui butterfly eggs to emerge from dormancy. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Matt Vuong and Ben Appiah from Houston, TX recording Planarian pre-flight data. Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image


image
Student Researchers from San Antonio, TX (left to right):  Christianna Cosgray - Freshman, Eberardo Rodriguez Esquivel - Junior, Alexandria Coleman - Junior, and Jonathan Garcia - Junior.  Image courtesy of SSEP.

+ View Larger Image