JAXA Space Aging Experiment Begins on Kibo

Ground photo of the cartridge containing nematode worms. (Credit: JAXA)
Ground photo of the cartridge containing nematode worms. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO, May 22, 2015 (JAXA PR) — JAXA’s life science experiment “Study of the effects of space flight on the aging of C. elegans* (Space Aging)” has started on the Japanese Experiment Module, “Kibo.”

*Principal Investigator: Yoko Honda, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology

Space Aging experiment aims to elucidate how microgravity affects creatures’ aging process. The experiment measures the longevity of the nematode worms (C. elegans) in space and analyzes the change of the gene expression.

The result of this experiment will clarify the senescence rate and the effects on the longevity of the worms which stay long-term in space. If a gene that controls the aging process is found, it may become a clue to the development of a new genomic drug that slows the aging or prevents age-associated diseases.

  • Launch: On April 15, 2015, the cartridge containing two types of nematode worms was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, U.S. aboard the SpaceX CRS-6 and delivered to Kibo.
  • Start of the experiment: On April 19, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly set the cartridge into the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF).
  • Observation: By a successful telecommand sent from the User Operations Area (UOA) at the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC), the observation became available. The culture and observation will last for about two months.