NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing (NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing) - 07.05.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing determines whether bacteria mutate at a different rate in the microgravity environment of space. The experiments extend previous work on virulence in space by exposing different batches of bacteria to toxins known to cause mutations. Automated equipment tests and photographs batches of bacteria contained within different concentrations of toxins so that the observed mutation rates can be compared with those observed from control groups on Earth.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Jeffrey Short, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)
Jeffrey Short, Ph.D., Abbott Molecular, Des Plaines, IL, United States

Norman McFarland, Palatine, IL, United States

First United Methodist Church, Troop 209, Palatine, IL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - September 2017; September 2017 - February 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Previous studies done by NASA on strains of Salmonella bacteria have shown that when exposed to conditions within the International Space Station (ISS), the bacteria develop to be three times more virulent than ground controls.
  • When placed into mice back on Earth, scientists found that the Salmonella bacteria strain exposed to conditions within the ISS killed mice at a three times greater rate than the ground control Salmonella strain (Stemp-Morlock, 2007).
  • Ideas about why this happens include the disease being tricked into thinking that it is inhabiting a digestive system, which would activate the disease's genes to begin rapid change.
  • NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing is an extension of this work using Escherichia coli (E. coli) to examine the frequency of bacterial mutations in microgravity on ISS.

NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing is a modification of the traditional Ames test assay referred to as a fluctuation test. The test is performed in a multi-well microplate in a very analogous fashion to the originally designed assay. NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing uses a multi-well plate containing a mixture of lyophilized bacteria, growth media, pH indicators, and known Ames positive reagents (e.g., saccharine) that are hydrated when the experiment is installed on the International Space Station (ISS). The bacteria are incubated in this plate on the ISS at ambient temperature for an extended period. The result of the experiment is scored by logging pH color changes by periodic photography.

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Space Applications
NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing expands understanding of disease risk in space. Predicting and managing infections and food borne outbreaks during long term space travel depends on a better understanding of how bacteria function in space. NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing helps determine how and why virulence patterns in space differ from those on Earth.

Earth Applications
NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing expands understanding of why bacteria mutate and potentially become more virulent under different conditions. The results inform understanding of bacterial virulence and infectious disease prevention.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks-NDC-Ames for Space-Bacteria Testing is pre-packaged into micro biology well plates, sealed (first seal level), installed into the experiment hardware (carousel, with second isolation seal), then the carousel in placed into the NanoRacks 1.5U Module, and the container opening is then sealed (third seal level), and frozen to sub 0 temperatures. When requested, the NanoRacks Module is shipped in the frozen state, loaded into a freezer, and sent to the ISS. On station, the NanoRacks container is removed from the freezer, allowed to sit at room temperature for 4 hours to allow thawing and condensation absorption inside of unit, then installed into the NanoRacks test unit and powered up. The test is totally self-contained and assumes no outside intervention during run time in the NanoRacks Platform. Recovery code is included for unit power fail/power return scenarios. After 26 days of running, the experiment goes to sleep and wait for removal from the NanoRacks Platform. Before removal, the standard NanoRacks data upload procedure uploads data from the SD Card and downloads the data back to the project team. The unit may then be removed from the NanoRacks Platform and returned to earth. No special travel considerations are needed for the return trip. Assuming that the data download is successful, immediate delivery of the module is not needed after returning to Earth, however, if the download is unsuccessful, pickup of the unit as soon as possible after returning is requested so contents of the experiment can be reviewed and some data results be recovered. It is hoped that the timing of the data download process is such that successful data download is confirmed before the Module leaves the ISS. After data is received, a second Earth bound control experiment begins and runs for same interval as the on station test. Following that, the analytics team pours over results and writes the final report.

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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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