University of Florida-Gainesville co-investigators Robert Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul are no strangers to suborbital research. They’ve been conducting plant research in microgravity since the late 1990s—first on the Space Shuttle and then on the International Space Station (ISS) and parabolic flights, many of which have been facilitated by Flight Opportunities.
More recently, the pair have begun flying their “space plants” (Arabidopsis thaliana) on rockets, including Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard. We spoke with Ferl and Paul about how they have approached their long-duration research to lead to successful, iterative investigations on multiple flights.
By Nicole Quenelle NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center
What happens to the genes of organisms as they travel from the ground, through Earth’s atmosphere and into space? Does their expression change? Are the changes subtle or dramatic? Do they happen quickly or gradually?
Answering such fundamental research questions is essential to our understanding of the impact of space travel on humans and other organisms. Two researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville have been chipping away at the answers since the 1990s—using plants.
268 kilograms of food produced in an area of only 12.5 square metres over 9.5 months.
Power consumption less than half as much as previously assumed for greenhouses in space.
Concept – a deployable greenhouse suitable for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Project in Antarctica continues.
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Future food production in deserts and cold regions, as well as under the inhospitable conditions of future space missions to the Moon and Mars, is providing the stimulus for research in the Antarctic greenhouse project EDEN ISS, which is led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
BOULDER, Colo. (Blue Canyon Technologies PR) –Small satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) announced it has been selected by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Small Spacecraft Technology program and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, in collaboration with the University of Florida and MIT, to provide multiple 3U spacecraft for its CubeSat Lasercom Infrared Crosslink (CLICK) flight demonstration missions.
The CubeSats will be used for separate demonstration missions: the first is a laser space-to-ground demonstration mission and the second will demonstrate laser crosslinks and ranging in low-Earth orbit.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A test tube drifting in midair and a computer tablet slowly turning are fun moments for the scientists who experience brief periods of weightlessness during parabolic flights. However, the science that’s taking place is no joke. NASA’s Flight Opportunities program makes it possible for U.S. researchers to take experiments out of their laboratories and into zero gravity for some for serious research with a bit of levity.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (University of Florida PR) — Brain scans of astronauts before and after spaceflight show changes to their white matter in areas that control movement and process sensory information, a University of Florida study shows.
The deterioration was the same type you’d expect to see with aging, but happened over a much shorter period of time. The findings could help explain why some astronauts have balance and coordination problems after returning to Earth, said Rachael Seidler, a professor with UF’s College of Health and Human Performance.
VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin’s next New Shepard mission (NS-10) is currently targeting liftoff tomorrow at 8:30 am CST / 14:30 UTC. This will be the 10th New Shepard mission and is dedicated to bringing nine NASA-sponsored research and technology payloads into space through NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. (more…)
MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — A winged spacecraft will soon take off with four NASA-supported technology experiments onboard. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will separate from the WhiteKnightTwo twin-fuselage carrier aircraft and continue its rocket-powered test flight.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Small satellites provide a cheap, responsive alternative to larger, more expensive satellites. As demand grows, engineers must adapt these “nanosatellites” to provide greater data returns. NASA, in collaboration with educational partners, targets 2021 for the launch of an innovative CubeSat that addresses these challenges.
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Several payload proposals selected from NASA’s Research Announcement: Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion (REDDI) 2016 solicitation flew as part of a Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) parabolic flight campaign during two weeks in March 2017.
ORLANDO, Fla, April 6, 2017 (Zero-G PR) – As part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G®) recently worked with research groups from University of Florida, Carthage College and University of Maryland to validate technology designed to further humanity’s reach into space. A collection of flights on G-FORCE ONE, ZERO-G’s specially modified Boeing 727, gave researchers the chance to run experiments and test innovative systems in the only FAA-approved, manned microgravity lab on Earth.
The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.
Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets. (more…)
As the managers of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) works closely with NASA and ISS National Lab partners to maximize the impact of research and development on the ISS to directly benefit life on Earth. Inside this year’s report you will find many signals of progress, as well as, unique perspectives from diverse ISS National Lab users.
FY2015 highlights include:
Receiving significant outside investments in ISS National Lab programming, including an agreement from the National Science Foundation to commit $1.8 million toward an ISS National Lab sponsored program, a $550,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for flight and education projects, and more than $250,000 from the Boeing Company to match a CASIS partnership with the Mass Challenge Accelerator program.
Growing non-traditional user demand—the ISS National Lab reached full capacity for allocated crew time for research that was both scientifically and economically reviewed for Earth benefit. These users included organizations like Merck, National Institutes of Health (NIH), iExpressGenes, RasLabs, Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT), Novartis. Visidyne and University of Florida.
Conducting the first-ever mouse bone-density scans in orbit—improving the capability to study bone and muscle loss in rodent models. Studying rodent models in space has been identified by researchers as an accelerated pathway to better treatments for osteoporosis and muscle atrophy on Earth.
Mounting of the first commercial platform on the exterior of the ISS for commercial testing of research payloads, sensors, and electronic components in space—created and sponsored by the ISS National Lab commercial service provider NanoRacks, LLC.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Buck Rogers surely couldn’t have seen this one coming, but at NASA’s request, University of Florida researchers have figured out how to turn human waste — yes, that kind — into rocket fuel.
Adolescent jokes aside, the process finally makes useful something that until now has been collected to burn up on re-entry. What’s more, like so many other things developed for the space program, the process could well turn up on Earth, said Pratap Pullammanappallil, a UF associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
“It could be used on campus or around town, or anywhere, to convert waste into fuel,” Pullammanappallil said.