Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers To Send Bacteria Into Orbit Aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis

12.05.2010
New Study Will Investigate the Effects of Microgravity on the Formation of Biofilms; Could Lead to Safer and Healthier Space Travel

A team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will send an army of microorganisms into space this week, to investigate new ways of preventing the formation and spread of biofilms, or clusters of bacteria, that could pose a threat to the health of astronauts.

The Micro-2 experiment, led by Cynthia Collins, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, is scheduled to launch into orbit on May 14 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The microorganisms will spend a week in space before returning to Earth aboard the shuttle. Within just a few hours after the shuttle’s return, Collins will be able to examine the bacteria and resulting biofilms to see how their growth and development were impacted by microgravity. The samples also will be returned to Rensselaer, to be examined using the core facilities of the Institute’s Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

“We know that gravity plays a key role in the development of biological systems, but we don’t know exactly how a lack of gravity affects the development of bacteria and biofilms,” Collins said. “This means while certain bacteria may be harmless on Earth, they could pose a health threat to astronauts on the International Space Station or, one day, long space flights. Our goal is to better understand how microgravity affects the relationship between humans and bacteria, so we can develop new ways of reduce the threat of biofilms to spacecraft and their crew.”

Partnering with Collins on the Micro-2 project are nanobiotechnology expert Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer and director of the university’s Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and thin films expert Joel Plawsky, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. NASA is funding the experiment.

Biofilms are complex, three-dimensional microbial communities. Bacteria commonly found in nature are often in the form of biofilms. Most biofilms, including those found in the human body, are harmless. Some biofilms, however, have shown to be associated with disease. Additionally, biofilms in locations such as hospitals – or confined locations like space shuttles – have exhibited resistance to antibiotics. This could pose a problem for astronauts, who have been shown to have an increased susceptibility to infection while in microgravity.

Collins and her team will send up eight devices, called group activation packs (GAPs) and each containing 128 vials of bacteria, aboard the shuttle. While in orbit, astronauts will begin the experiment by manipulating the sealed vials and introducing the bacteria to different membranes. At the same time, Collins will perform the same actions with identical GAPs still on Earth at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After the shuttle returns, her team will compare the resulting biofilms to see how the behavior of bacteria and development of biofilms in microgravity differed from the control group. The experiment uses BioServe Space Technologies flight-certified hardware.

The Micro-2 research team will also test if newly developed, nanotechnology-based antimicrobial surfaces – developed by Dordick at Rensselaer – can help slow the growth of biofilms on Earth and in microgravity. If successful, these new antimicrobial surfaces could one day be used in hospitals and spacecraft to help reduce the impact of biofilms on human health.

For more information on the project, visit: http://spacebiosciences.arc.nasa.gov/micro2.html

For additional information on Collins’ research, visit: www.rpi.edu/~collic3/Cynthia_Collins

For additional information on Dordick’s research, visit:
http://enzymes.che.rpi.edu/Research%20Group.html
For additional information Plawsky’s research, visit:
http://www.rpi.edu/dept/chem-eng/WWW/faculty/plawsky/jlp.res.html
Collins’ experiment is the third Rensselaer research project to be launched into space over the past year. In August 2009, an experimental heat transfer system designed by Plawsky and Rensselaer Professor Peter Wayner was installed in the International Space Station (ISS), where it will remain for three years. In November 2009, wear-resistant, low-friction nanomaterials created by Professor Linda Schadler were blasted into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, attached to the outer hull of the ISS, and exposed to rigors of space.
For more information on these projects, visit: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2618
http://blogger.rpi.edu/approach/2010/03/30/guest-blogger-joel-plawsky/
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2658
Contact
Michael Mullaney
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY
518-276-6161 (office)
518-698-6336 (mobile)
mullam@rpi.edu
Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/RPInews.
For more story ideas, visit the Rensselaer research and discovery blog at: http://approach.rpi.edu

Michael Mullaney | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>