(Managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space)
Crystallization of Silver Nitrate in Microgravity on a Silver Cathode
Eaglecrest High School, Centennial, CO
This project seeks to assess the three-dimensional structure of silver crystals formed in microgravity using a technique called electrolysis. Microgravity affects crystal formation, typically enabling larger crystals with fewer defects than those grown on Earth. This study aims to deepen the understanding of the production of metal crystals by electrolysis for use in developing new methods of manufacturing nanowires and other nanostructures. Nanoscale structures function at the single-atom scale, and they can only work properly if they are structured correctly. But scientists do not fully understand the mechanics of nanoscale crystal structures. This investigation will provide new information about this process that could benefit future nanotechnology development.
Dissolution of Hard-to-Wet-Solids
Eli Lilly & Co.
This experiment seeks to investigate the solubility of pharmaceutically manufactured tablets. By examining how a tablet formulation interacts with a liquid solution in microgravity—an environment that eliminates the confounding factors of gravity and buoyancy—investigators are able to gain a better understanding of how the tablet dissolves in the body and releases medicine. Data from this experiment will help improve drug formulations for accurate time-released delivery of the correct dosage.
Earth Abundant Textured Thin Film Photovoltaics
Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Jud Ready
The International Space Station relies on solar panels for electricity. This project will examine a new type of three-dimensional solar cell that absorbs sunlight more efficiently on Earth and in space. The new three-dimensional solar cell can trap sunlight coming from any direction, improving efficiency. The investigation will study the solar cell’s response to the continually changing sun angles and the harsh environment of space.
The Effects of Different Wavelengths of Light on Algae Oxygen Production in Microgravity
Duchesne Academy of Sacred Heart – Houston, TX
Algae and plants respond differently to varying wavelengths of light across the visible light spectrum. This student-led experiment will determine how different wavelengths of light, representing different colors, affect photosynthesis in a species of algae (Chlorella vulgaris). Results will determine the ideal colors to use when growing algae in microgravity, to be used as possible sources of oxygen, food, and fuel on future space missions.
The Effects of Microgravity and Light Wavelength on Plant Growth
Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart – Houston, TX
Crew members on the International Space Station receive food during cargo deliveries, but humans on future long-duration missions to the moon, Mars, or asteroids will need to grow their own food. This student led experiment tests how well fast-growing plants, such as pea shoots, can grow with combinations of red and blue wavelengths of light. Students will germinate plants from seeds and place them in a growth chamber so they can be grown in microgravity.
Effects of Microgravity on Stem Cell-Derived Heart Cells
Dr. Joseph Wu
Dr. Joseph Wu, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, leads a research group focused on developing stem-cell based therapies to treat heart disease. This study will examine how adult skin cells induced to revert back to stem cells and then differentiated into heart cells mature and age in microgravity, where prolonged spaceflight causes documented changes in heart structure and physiology. The results of this study will provide important insight into the cells’ biology and utility for repair of damaged heart tissue.
Effects of Yeast in Microgravity
Awty International School
This student-led experiment sends three different strains of yeast cells to the International Space Station, where they grow in the same environment with the same nutrients. The investigation compares the cells’ growth rates, structure, and respiration to yeast grown on Earth, and analyzes the cells after they return from space to determine how microgravity affects their function and behavior. Yeast cells are widely used as models for human cells. Studying yeast cells’ response to microgravity improves biological studies related to human health, including studies on the potential advantages of new drugs.
Evaluation of Gumstix Performance in Low Earth Orbit
Dr. Kathleen Morse
Computers used in space must be designed to withstand radiation, and the lengthy testing process often means that space-based computers are two or three generations behind state-of-the-art computers on Earth. This investigation tests small computers called Gumstix modules, which are based on open-source software, as an alternative off-the-shelf option for use in space. The investigation studies whether the Gumstix microprocessors can withstand the radiation environment on board the International Space Station.
Fluorescent Polarization in Microgravity
Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute
Dr. Siobhan Malany
Scientists study chemical reactions using a technique called fluorescence polarization, which produces changes in light when molecules bind together. This technique enables researchers to measure the interactions of proteins with DNA or antibodies and many other biomedical functions. This project seeks to test a commercial plate reader instrument that detects changes in light for these types of reactions to examine microgravity’s effect on fluorescent polarization, which paves the way for advanced biology research and drug development in space.
Global AIS on Space Station
JAMMS America, Inc.
A signal receiver and router system will be installed on the International Space Station to demonstrate the ability of the ISS to serve as a remote sensing platform for maritime tracking. Ships broadcasting information (for example, location, speed, heading, and registration number) through an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder will benefit from improved signal transmission. The vantage point of the ISS in low Earth orbit, extends the range and efficiency of maritime AIS signal transmission compared to high-altitude satellites, which are impaired by transmission latency.
Molecules Produced in Microgravity from the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident
California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran
This project will screen fungi in microgravity for novel metabolic pathways and the production of natural products that could be beneficial for biomedical and agricultural applications. Microgravity is a stressful growth environment, and these fungal strains, recovered near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, are a rich source of biologically active compounds with properties that may be useful for the treatment of human disease and/or the growth of food crops.
University of Minnesota
Dr. Bruce Hammer
Millions of Americans experience bone mineral density loss resulting from disease, the progressive effects of aging, or the accelerated loss of bone when confined to bed for long periods. Microgravity exposure also accelerates bone loss if astronauts do not engage in load-bearing, resistive exercise and take medicine to maintain healthy bones. This project will test whether the magnetic levitation of bone cells (osteoblast cells that build bone and osteoclast cells that tear down bone) in a bioreactor on Earth can be used to accurately simulate the free-fall conditions of microgravity by comparing gene expression in space- and Earth-grown bone cells. This information helps scientists determine the molecular changes that take place in the cells when cultured in magnetic levitation versus microgravity.
Plate Reader-2 is a laboratory instrument on the International Space Station (ISS) designed to detect biological, chemical, or physical events of samples in a standard sample container (a microplate). The instrument operates on an automated system, which minimizes the required astronaut handling time. Astronauts only need to load samples into the microplate, and NanoRacks will remotely run the instrument from the ground. Microplate readers are widely used in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and this improved technology on the ISS may help to advance research in those fields.
Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School – Houston, TX
This student-led experiment will treat slime molds with a series of stimuli while in microgravity, monitoring their responses and comparing them to slime molds on the ground. Slime molds have unique behavior—at times, they behave like isolated single-celled organisms; at other times, they assemble into slug-like multi-cellular organisms; and when they are under duress, they can produce spores. Slime molds and biofilms have been found on the ISS, and may grow differently in microgravity than they do on Earth. Improved understanding of slime mold behavior may yield new methods for eliminating them or using them for human benefit on Earth.
MultiLab: Research Server for the ISS
Space Tango, Inc.
The new MultiLab facility will be permanently installed on the International Space Station and will serve as a multi-user, general-purpose research platform for conducting research in microgravity. MultiLab provides structural support and a simple standard interface for lab modules called CubeLabs™ that are adaptable for experiments from any scientific discipline (chemistry, biology, physics, etc.). This platform technology from Space Tango, Inc. reduces the cost and time associated with flight experiment design and implementation for users in government, industry, and academia, and will enable more access to space for research and education.
First the Seed Foundation
Tomatosphere™ is an educational program started in 1999 in which students investigate how the space environment affects tomato plant growth. Each participating class is sent two packages of tomato seeds—one package of seeds that has been sent into space and one package of control seeds that have not been in space. Students and teachers compare the germination rates of the two groups of seeds, not knowing which seeds went to space and which are the control seeds. This project will provide transportation of 1.2 million seeds to and from the ISS (the seeds will remain in orbit between 10 and 60 days). The project will also include monitoring and data tracking (temperature, humidity, and pressure) for both the seeds sent to the ISS and the control seeds. Tomatosphere™ is a hands-on student research experience with a standards-based curriculum guide that provides students the opportunity to investigate, create, test, and evaluate a solution for a real world case study.