Microgravity life-science research requires hardware that can be easily adapted to a variety of experimental designs and working environments. The Biomodule is a patented, computer-controlled fluid-mixing device that can accommodate these diverse requirements. A typical shuttle payload contains eight Biomodules with a total of 64 samples, a sealed containment vessel, and a NASA refrigeration-incubation module. Each Biomodule contains eight gas-permeable Silastic T tubes that are partitioned into three fluid-filled compartments. The fluids can be mixed at any user-specified time. Multiple investigators and complex experimental designs can be easily accommodated with the hardware. During flight, the Biomodules are sealed in a vessel that provides two levels of containment (liquids and gas) and a stable, investigator-controlled experimental environment that includes regulated temperature, internal pressure, humidity, and gas composition. A cell microencapsulation methodology has also been developed to streamline launch-site sample manipulation and accelerate postflight analysis through the use of fluorescent-activated cell sorting. The Biomodule flight hardware and analytical cell encapsulation methodology are ideally suited for temporal, qualitative, or quantitative life-science investigations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering
- Space and Planetary Science