Particle physics experiments

Discover the incredible science experiments bound for the space station aboard the 24th SpaceX Cargo mission

Bioprinting, a subcategory of 3D printing, uses viable cells and biological molecules to print tissue structures. Bioprint FirstAid Handheld Bioprinter (Bioprint FirstAid), a European Space Agency (ESA) investigation, features a handheld, wearable bioprinter that uses a patient’s own skin cells to create a tissue-forming patch to cover a wound and speed up the healing process. Credit: Courtesy of OHB/DLR/ESA

24andSpaceX cargo resupply services mission, scheduled to launch at the end of December from ">Nasa‘s Kennedy Space Center in Florida transports scientific research and technology demonstrations to the International Space Station. Onboard experiments include studies of bioprinting, crystallization of monoclonal antibodies, changes in immune function, changes in plant gene expression, washing clothes in space, alloy processing and student citizen science projects.

Learn more about these science experiments aboard the Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting lab:

ESA Bioprint FirstAid

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is shown during pre-flight training for the BioPrint First Aid survey, which is testing a patch of bio-printed fabric to improve wound healing. Credit: ESA

Bioprint dressings

Bioprinting, a subcategory of 3D printing, uses viable cells and biological molecules to print tissue structures. A study by the German Space Agency, Bioprint FirstAid, demonstrates a wearable bioprinter that uses a patient’s own skin cells to create a tissue-forming patch to cover a wound and speed up the healing process. healing.

In future missions to the Moon and ">March, bioprinting these custom patches could help address changes in wound healing that can occur in space and could complicate treatment. Extracting an individual’s cells before a mission would allow for a more immediate response to injury.

“During human space exploration missions, skin lesions must be treated quickly and efficiently,” project manager Michael Becker of the German Space Agency tells DLR. “Mobile bio-printing could significantly speed up the healing process. Personalized and individual wound treatment based on bio-printing could have great benefit and is an important step for more personalized medicine in space and on Earth.

Custom healing patches also have potential benefits on Earth, providing safer and more flexible treatment wherever needed. The researchers plan to study the space-printed patches and the ground-printed samples at the Technical University of Dresden.

Improving cancer drug delivery

Monoclonal antibodies, used to treat a wide range of human diseases, do not dissolve easily in liquid and therefore generally must be administered intravenously in a clinical setting. Treatments given by injection into the skin or muscle could be more accessible and affordable for those who need them and use fewer expensive resources. CASIS PCG 20 continues its work on the crystallization of a monoclonal antibody developed by Merck Research Labs which is the active ingredient of a drug targeting several cancers. Scientists are analyzing these crystals to learn more about the structure and behavior of the ingredient, with the goal of creating drug formulations that can be administered by injection in a doctor’s office or even at home. A previous investigation, PCG-5, produced high quality crystal suspensions, contributing to ongoing efforts to formulate the drug for injection administration.

Infection risk assessment

Scientists have observed that spaceflight sometimes increases the virulence of potentially harmful microbes and can reduce human immune function, which could increase the risk of infectious diseases. Host Pathogen assesses space-induced changes in immune status by culturing cells taken from crew members before, during, and after spaceflight with bacteria grown under simulated spaceflight conditions and unmodified bacteria. The results could help assess the potential risk that infectious microbes may pose and may support the development of countermeasures. A better understanding of how stress can decrease immune function could also improve care for people with compromised immune systems on Earth.

MVP Plant-01 Survey

This image shows a plate with seedlings after 10 days of growth for the MVP Plant-01 survey. Credit: Grant Vellinger Techshot/Redwire

Roots, shoots and leaves

MVP Plant-01 profiles and monitors plant shoot and root development in microgravity to help scientists understand the mechanisms by which plants sense and adapt to changes in their environment. Plants could form an important part of human life support systems for long-duration spaceflight and the habitation of the Moon and Mars. However, plants grown in space experience stress from a variety of factors, and recent studies indicate that gene expression in plants changes in response to these stressors. A better understanding of these changes could allow the response to stressors to be used to develop plants better adapted to growing in space environments. For this investigation, plants are grown in Petri dishes in Techshot’s new Phytofuge modules.

ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti Socks

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows off her yellow and white striped socks aboard the space station. The PGTIDE experiment is testing a fully degradable detergent specifically for cleaning clothes (including socks) in space. Credit: NASA

Towards the lunar laundries

Astronauts on the space station wear a piece of clothing several times, then replace it with new clothing delivered during resupply missions. Limited cargo capacity makes this a challenge, and resupply is not an option for longer missions such as to the Moon and Mars. Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has developed Tide Infinity, a fully degradable detergent specifically for use in space, and PGTIDE is studying the performance of its stain-fighting ingredients and the stability of the formulation in microgravity.

“From a scientific perspective, the main challenges of off-planet washing include the stringent requirements for compatibility with air purification systems, the limited amount of water available for each wash treatment, and the requirement that the laundry water is purified to be drinkable water again,” says P&G researcher Mark Sivik.

Once the technology is proven in space, he adds, Tide will use these cleaning methods and detergent to advance sustainable, resource-efficient laundry solutions here on Earth.

The ISS National Laboratory is sponsoring the experiment.

Turbine Superalloy Molding Module (Turbine SCM)

Upstream imaging of the Turbine SCM device, which will test the processing of heat-resistant alloy parts in microgravity. Credit: Espace Redwire

Parts made in space

Turbine SCM is testing a commercially manufactured device that treats heat resistant alloy parts in microgravity. Alloys are materials made up of two or more different chemical elements, one of which is a metal. Researchers expect more uniform microstructures and improved mechanical properties in superalloy parts processed in microgravity compared to those processed on Earth. These superior materials could improve the performance of turbine engines in industries such as aerospace and power generation on Earth. Turbine SCM is remotely operated by Redwire Space.

“We continue to leverage the space station as a vital platform to foster scientific discovery, validate commercial infrastructure capabilities in low Earth orbit, and prove deep space exploration technologies,” said Justin. Kugler, managing director of Redwire Mission Solutions. “Our payloads on this mission represent the breadth and versatility of our on-orbit manufacturing and R&D capabilities to deliver new industrial products to support long-duration human spaceflight and benefit the people of Earth.”

Vandal Voyagers SPOCS Experience

Pre-flight image of the device for the University of Idaho’s SPOCS Vandal Voyagers experiment on bacteria-resistant materials in microgravity. Credit: University of Idaho SPOCS Team

Students and Citizens as Space Scientists

Students enrolled in institutions of higher learning can design and build microgravity experiments through NASA’s Student Payload with Citizen Science (SPOCS) opportunity. As part of their experiment, selected teams are engaging K-12 students as citizen scientists. Citizen science enables people who are not professional scientists to contribute meaningfully to real-world research. The NASA STEM on Station project is funding flight experiments on this SpaceX resupply mission, including a study of antibiotic resistance in microgravity from Colombia University and one on how microgravity affects bacteria-resistant materials from the University of Idaho.

Theo Nelson, outreach manager and protocol biologist at Columbia, points out that space radiation can lead to increased mutation rates in bacteria and that the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains poses a potential threat to future space missions in long term. “These bacteria are present in our body, so it’s impossible to eliminate this threat with containment,” Nelson says. “Our investigation, Characterizing Antibiotic Resistance in Microgravity Environments, or CARMEn, aims to characterize the basic biology of a particular combination of bacteria and improve our understanding of the impact of microgravity on the ability of these strains to cause disease. individually and in combination.”

“The presence and growth of microbes poses a risk to both the health of crew members and the physical integrity of components,” said University of Idaho team member Niko Hansen. . He points out that using materials resistant to microbial growth for high contact surfaces inside a spacecraft offers a potential remedy. The team relied on citizen scientists to examine some well-known chemistries and identify which one to evaluate in microgravity.