Multi-Experiment STEM Education Module 4 (Multi-Experiment STEM Education Module 4) - 01.16.19

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Multi-Experiment STEM Education Module 4 features four student-designed experiments that study: the antifungal properties of Aloe vera, the antibacterial properties of several common spices (turmeric, garlic, and ginger), enzymatic reactions in microgravity, and the power-output of a cyanobacterial biofuel cell. Each of these experiments has particular applications to future space travel, and participation in the Module inspires and educates the next generation of explorers and scientists.
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)
Julie Keeble, Ph.D., International Space School Educational Trust, Penarth, United Kingdom

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
October 2018 - March 2019

Expeditions Assigned
57/58

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Multi-Experiment STEM Education Module 4 consists of four educational experiments.
  • In the first experiment, fungal Candida albicans is grown on yeast malt agar in the presence of Aloe vera to establish a baseline measurement indicative of the effectiveness of A. vera as an antifungal in the microgravity environment. The growth of C. albicans is imaged.
  • In the second experiment, the inhibition effectiveness of turmeric, garlic, and ginger are compared to a ground control to determine whether microgravity affects antibacterial properties of common household spices. Escherichia coli is grown in nutrient agar and exposed to discs heavily saturated with the aforementioned spices. The resulting zones of inhibition are imaged.
  • The third experiment aims to use cyanobacteria as a platform for biofuel cell production in microgravity. The energy produced by a simple biofuel cell is analyzed for the duration of the mission.
  • Enzymatic activity in the absence of gravity is a phenomenon not well characterized or studied. The fourth experiment studies the activity of enzyme β-Glucosidase through the hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside. The enzymatic reaction triggers a colorimetric change, which is imaged and paired with time-stamping so that reactions may be monitored and compared to replicates on the ground.

Description

Multi-Experiment STEM Education Module 4 investigation consists of four educational experiments designed by students:
 
To establish a baseline measurement indicative of the effectiveness of Aloe vera as an antifungal in the microgravity environment, fungal Candida albicans is grown on yeast malt agar in the presence of A. vera. C. albicans growth is then imaged. The antifungal properties of Aloe vera are listed confidently alongside many of the plant’s other known applications. The diverse utility of the plant makes it an excellent candidate for long-term spaceflight wherein sustainable resources are of high-importance. Thus, this experiment may support that the key properties of A.vera are maintained in a space environment.
 
To determine whether microgravity affects antibacterial properties of common household spices, the inhibition effectiveness of turmeric, garlic, and ginger are compared to a control. E. Coli are herein grown on nutrient agar and exposed to discs heavily saturated with the aforementioned spices. The resulting zones of inhibition will be imaged. Spices possess great potential within the field of pharmaceuticals as antimicrobial agents. Growing E. Coli bacteria in the presence of these spices in the space environment is a vital step towards supporting their competency in a new and harsh environment.
 
A third experiment intends to provide insight into the use of cyanobacteria as a platform for biofuel cell production in microgravity. The energy produced by a simple biofuel cell is analyzed for the duration of the mission. The pressing need for sustainable sources of energy is present in space just as on Earth. By studying the energy production efficiency of cyanobacteria in microgravity, information may be gained regarding whether these self-contained bioreactors have a place in energy production on long-duration space missions, as well as how the system may be designed to optimize biomass production.
 
Enzymatic activity in the absence of gravity is a phenomenon not well characterized or studied, so in this study, the activity of β-Glucosidase is profiled through the hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside. The product of the enzymatic reaction triggers a colorimetric change, which is imaged and paired with time-stamping so that reactions may be monitored and compared to replicates on ground. The role of microgravity on enzymes is emerging as an area of interest, and profiling this common reaction may be useful in designing future spaceflight experiments.

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Applications

Space Applications

Each of the four experiments has specific space applications. The antifungal properties and diverse utility of A. vera make it a candidate for use on long-term spaceflight. Spices possess potential as antimicrobial agents and growing bacteria in the presence of these spices in space may prove their competency in this harsh environment. Sustainable energy sources such as self-contained bioreactors are crucial to long-term space travel. Profiling microgravity’s effect on enzymes may be useful in designing future spaceflight experiments.

Earth Applications
This multi-experiment module helps participants understand of the role of gravity in general and in scientific experiments in particular, and participation helps inspire and educate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
The science is contained inside of a 6U CubeLab in 4°C cold stow, with an orientation constraint, for ascent. The crew installs the CubeLab onto a payload card and then into the TangoLab, where autonomous operations occur. At the end of operations, the crew removes and stows the hardware for return to Earth. The investigation is turned over to the Space Tango 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
International Space School Educational Trust
Space Tango

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Imagery