NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ISS Biomedical Experiments 3 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3) - 10.25.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ISS Biomedical Experiments 3 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3) consists of six prize-winning, student science experiments selected to fly aboard the International Space Station. The experiments investigate a range of practical, space-related questions concerning microbial biology and plant growth in space. NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3 uses standard biological laboratory materials, from petri dishes to common antiseptic agents, and photographs experimental subjects (plants, bacterial, fungi) over the two-week duration of the experiments.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Julie Keeble, Ph.D., 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
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
51/52

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • There are six student experiments in the NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ISS Biomedical Experiments 3 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3) investigation.
  • The first experiment determines the antibiotic properties of bacteriophages in microgravity. Bacteriophages are viruses that invade bacteria and have antibacterial properties. With increasing antibiotic resistance, bacteriophages offer an alternative approach.
  • The second experiment determines the antibacterial properties of antiseptic agents in microgravity. This experiment utilizes various antibacterial agents, e.g. hydrogen peroxide, silver chloride and household disinfectant, and determines their effectiveness on the International Space Station (ISS) compared to on earth. Some bacteria thrive in the environment of the ISS and so it is important to check that the cleaning agents that are used on earth are also effective in space.
  • The third experiment determines the growth of phosphate solubilizing bacteria in microgravity. Inorganic phosphate cannot be effectively utilized by plants for growth. There is an abundance of inorganic phosphate on the surface of Mars, but plants would need it to be solubilized in order to grow. Phosphate solubilizing bacteria are able to achieve this solubilization, but it is not yet known how effectively the bacteria grow in microgravity. This experiment compares growth of the bacteria in microgravity to growth on earth.
  • The fourth experiment determines the symbiotic relationship between simple plants and rhizobacteria in microgravity. Rhizobacteria are root-colonizing bacteria that form symbiotic relationships with many plants and are capable of solubilizing phosphate. As an extension to experiment 3, this study determines whether plant growth (grass) is actually increased by rhizobacteria in space and how this compares to growth on Earth.
  • The fifth experiment determines the growth of slime mold across various surfaces (rubber/aluminium/Velcro/plastic) in microgravity. Some microorganisms flourish on the ISS, but it is not yet known how surface materials affect their growth. This experiment uses slime mold, a species that has been previously grown in space, and see how well it grows across different surface materials. All of the materials being used exist on the ISS and the experiment therefore gives information about how these surfaces encourage the growth of micro-organisms.
  • The sixth experiment determines how ‘slime bacteria’ grow in microgravity. Chondromyces crocatus belongs to the bacterial family of Myxobacteriales. In response to a chemical signal, possibly induced by starvation, bacteria stream together and produce a large fruit body, important for bacterial reproduction. Large yellow spores are formed that clusters at the tips of branches, each one containing rods of individual bacteria. These fruit bodies can be seen using a hand-held lens. This experiment determines whether fruit bodies are able to form the same way in microgravity as they do on Earth, which provides important information about growth of micro-organisms in space.

Description

There are six student experiments in the NanoRacks-Mission Discovery ISS Biomedical Experiments 3 (NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3) investigation:
 
The first experiment determines the antibiotic properties of bacteriophages in microgravity. Prior to launch, 2X lysogeny broth (LB) and/or nutrient agar plates are spread with 50 μL of Escherichia coli (E. coli), and bacteriophage-loaded disks (1 cm filter papers or agar disks) are aseptically attached to a flexible lid, before cold stow. On-orbit, the crew member needs to push the filter papers or agar disks down onto the agar to initiate the experiment and leave it at room temperature. Photos are taken with a digital single-lens reflex camera (dSLR) every 7 days from the perspective shown below (similar perspective for experiments 1 – 5). The experiment is complete within 14 days. The objective of this experiment is to determine how effectively bacteriophages kill bacteria in microgravity, seen as a ring of inhibition around the filter paper.
 
The second experiment determines the antibacterial properties of antiseptic agents in microgravity. Prior to launch, 2X LB and/or nutrient agar plates are spread with 50 μL of E. coli, and antiseptic-loaded disks (1 cm filter papers or 1 cm agar disks) are aseptically attached to a flexible lid, before cold stow. Antiseptic agents include hydrogen peroxide, silver chloride and Lactobacillus acidophilus. On-orbit, the crew member needs to push the filter papers and agar disks down onto the agar to initiate the experiment and leave it at room temperature. Photos are taken with a dSLR every 7 days. The experiment is complete within 14 days. The objective of this experiment is to determine how effectively antiseptic agents kill bacteria in microgravity, seen as a ring of inhibition around the filter paper.
 
The third experiment determines the growth of phosphate solubilizing bacteria in microgravity. Prior to launch, 2X LB and/or nutrient agar plates are spread with 50 μL of Pseudomonas putida, before cold stow. On-orbit, the crew member leaves the experiment at room temperature to encourage bacterial growth. Photos are taken with a dSLR every 7 days. The experiment is complete within 14 days. The objective of this experiment is to determine how efficiently phosphate-solubilizing bacteria grow in microgravity.
 
The fourth experiment determines the symbiotic relationship between simple plants and rhizobacteria in microgravity. Prior to launch, 2X LB and/or nutrient agar plates are prepared, one of which is spread with 50 μL of Pseudomonas putida, and grass seed-loaded disks (1 cm filter papers or agar disks) 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 and leave it at room temperature. An LED lighting system is used to give a 12 hour on/off light cycle for plant growth. Photos are taken with a dSLR every 7 days. The experiment is complete within 14 days. The objective of the experiment is to determine the efficiency of bacterial growth and whether rhizobacteria can promote plant growth in microgravity.
 
The fifth experiment determines the growth of slime mold across various surfaces (rubber/aluminium/Velcro/plastic) in microgravity. Prior to launch, 2X LB and/or nutrient agar plates, containing oats, are prepared with overlying radial strips of aluminium, acrylic plastic, Velcro and silicone plastic. A 1 cm filter paper with approximately 20 mg of slime mold sclerotia is placed in the center of the dish, before cold stow. On-orbit, the crew member leaves the experiment at room temperature to encourage slime mold growth. Photos are taken with a dSLR every 7 days. The experiment is complete within 14 days. The objective of the experiment is to determine how slime mold (representative of various microorganisms) grows across different surfaces in microgravity.
 
The sixth experiment determines how ‘slime bacteria’ grow in microgravity. Prior to launch, 2X LB and/or nutrient agar plates are spread with 50 μL of Chondromyces crocatus, before cold stow. On-orbit, the crew member leaves the experiment at room temperature to encourage bacterial growth. Photos are taken with NanoRacks Microscope-3 every 7 days. The experiment is complete within 14 days. The objective of this experiment is to determine the nature of Chondromyces crocatus growth in microgravity.

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Applications

Space Applications
NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3 provides specific information about how to grow beneficial organisms and prevent growth of harmful organisms in space. As an opportunity and competitive prize, the experiments also generate awareness and excitement about U.S. and international space programs. This type of hands-on activity trains and inspires college students to get involved with space-related research in support of long-term mission goals.

Earth Applications
NanoRacks-Mission Discovery 3 advances Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education goals by including college student participation. As part of an integrative experience that includes interaction with astronauts and other NASA personnel, this project demonstrates the teamwork and problem-solving aspects of STEM career paths.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
Remove NanoRacks Module-52 from cold-stowage per standard ops. Initiate experiments, where appropriate. Photograph all experiments. Stow the Module in ambient conditions inside NanoRacks Platform during petri sample growth period (time span is sample/investigation-specific). Source 4 AA batteries and insert in lighting system. Destow NanoRacks Module-52 and NanoRacks Microscope-3. Take the petri dish samples out of the module; take and downlink photos of each per standard NanoRacks Microscope-3 procedures. Repeat after 7 days and after 14 days. Dispose of NanoRacks Module-52 and petri dish samples once all NanoRacks Microscope-3 ops are completed and confirmed with the Payload Developer.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
ISSET - Mission Discovery
NanoRacks

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Imagery

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Example of the flexible disk used on-orbit to combine the E. coli and bacteriophage. Image courtesy of ISSET.

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Example of the culture used on-orbit to grow Chondromyces crocatus, aka “slime bacteria.” Image courtesy of ISSET.

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Top-down view of the experiment disks assembled in their module. Image courtesy of ISSET.

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Top-down view of the experiment disks assembled in their module. Image courtesy of ISSET.

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Side view of the sealed module containing the experiment disks. Image courtesy of ISSET.

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Top-down view of the experiment disks and hardware assembled in their module. Image courtesy of ISSET.

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Arduino micro circuitry diagram. Image courtesy of ISSET.

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