Megachile rotundata Proprioception and Flight Patterns in Microgravity (Megachile rotundata Proprioception and Flight Patterns in Microgravity) - 09.13.18

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

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Science Objectives for Everyone
Megachile rotundata Proprioception and Flight Patterns in Microgravity observes the behavior and flight patterns of the alfalfa leaf cutting bee (ALCB) in microgravity. Imagery from two cameras provide data to examine flight patterns, feeding behavior, proprioception (an organism’s perception of the relative position and movement of parts of its body), general locomotion, and structural changes. The standard bee physiology of ALCBs serves as an excellent baseline for understanding the behavioral and physiological changes of bees in space.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Gentry Barnett, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Michelle Lucas, Higher Orbits, Leesburg, VA, United States

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

Developer(s)
Space Tango, Inc., Lexington, KY, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
February 2018 - October 2018

Expeditions Assigned
55/56

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Megachile rotundata Proprioception and Flight Patterns in Microgravity observes the behavior and flight patterns of alfalfa leaf cutting bees (Megachile rotunda, also known as ACLB) in the microgravity environment.
  • Two cameras are used to capture imagery throughout the experiment. The data collected from the recorded footage include: flight patterns, feeding behavior (somatosensory functionality), proprioception (an organism’s perception of the relative position and movement of parts of its body), general locomotion, and morphological changes.

Description

Megachile rotundata Proprioception and Flight Patterns in Microgravity studies Alfalfa Leaf Cutting Bees (ALCB) which are small (0.25-0.5”) and native to Europe but also prevalent in the United States. Megachile rotundata is an efficient pollinator though it is solitary and does not build colonies or store honey. The bees feed on pollen and nectar. Females of the species build their own nests, using cut leaves. In addition, M. rotundata is sexually dimorphic and both male and females of the species are known to bite and sting (only when handled). The role this bee plays in pollination is the main determining factor for its selection in this experiment.
 
ALCB provide an excellent baseline given their standard bee physiology; thus, better understanding the behavior and physiological changes of bees in space has practical application in the future of horticulture and agriculture on Earth and in space. Further, observing the flight patterns of bees may provide insight into the role that earthbound forces have on proprioception, orientation, and muscular dystrophy in bees and similar organisms.

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Applications

Space Applications
Bees are important pollinators for a variety of plants, including food crops. Better understanding of changes in bee behavior and physiology in space has practical applications for developing the capability of producing food in non-Earth environments, including aboard spacecraft and on other planets such as Mars.

Earth Applications
Better understanding of the behavioral and physiological changes of bees in space has practical applications in horticulture and agriculture on Earth. In addition, observing the flight patterns of bees in space provides insight into the role of gravity on proprioception, orientation, and disorders such as muscular dystrophy in bees and similar organisms.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
The science is contained in Payload Card-8 inside of a 2U CubeLab and is soft stowed for ambient ascent. The CubeLab is then installed into the TangoLab where autonomous operations occur. Once the experiment is complete, the crew removes and stows the hardware for return to Earth. The experiment is turned over to the Space Tango Principal Investigator’s team upon return.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Space Tango
Higher Orbits

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Imagery