Science in Space!
What science is headed to the International Space Station with Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply launch? From investigations that study magnetic cell culturing to crystal growth, let’s take a look…
Orbital ATK is targeted to launch its Cygnus spacecraft into orbit on April 18, delivering tons of cargo, supplies and experiments to the crew onboard.
Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in Microgravity Investigation
In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D. Structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, which allows us to better test the efficacy of a drug. This experiment tests new antibody drug conjugates.
These conjugates combine an immune-activating drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and potentially reduce the associated side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform drug design for cancer patients, as well as more insight into how microgravity effects a drug’s performance.
Genes in Space
The Genes in Space-2 experiment aims to understand how the regulation of telomeres (protective caps on the tips of chromosomes) can change during spaceflight. Julian Rubinfien, 16-year-old DNA scientist and now space researcher, is sending his experiment to space as part of this investigation.
3-D Cell Culturing in Space
Cells cultured in space spontaneously grow in 3-D, as opposed to cells cultured on Earth which grow in 2-D, resulting in characteristics more representative of how cells grow and function in living organisms. The Magnetic 3-D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity investigation will test magnetized cells and tools that may make it easier to handle cells and cell cultures.
This could help investigators improve the ability to reproduce similar investigations on Earth.
The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the space station in 2002.
Although it has been updated with modernized software, data acquisition, high definition video and communications interfaces, its objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth.
Out-of-function satellites, spent rocket stages and other debris frequently reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it breaks up and disintegrates before hitting the ground. However, some larger objects can survive. The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation will study a new type of recording device that rides alongside of a spacecraft reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, it will record data about the extreme conditions it encounters, something scientists have been unable to test on a large scale thus afar.
Understanding what happens to a spacecraft as it reenters the atmosphere could lead to increased accuracy of spacecraft breakup predictions, an improved design of future spacecraft and the development of materials that can resist the extreme heat and pressure of returning to Earth.
IceCube, a small satellite known as a CubeSat, will measure cloud ice using an 883-Gigahertz radiometer. Used to predict weather and climate models, IceCube will collect the first global map of cloud-induced radiances.
The key objective for this investigation is to raise the technology readiness level, a NASA assessment that measures a technology’s maturity level.
Advanced Plant Habitat
Joining the space station’s growing list of facilities is the Advanced Plant Habitat, a fully enclosed, environmentally controlled plant habitat used to conduct plant bioscience research. This habitat integrates proven microgravity plant growth processes with newly-developed technologies to increase overall efficiency and reliability.
The ability to cultivate plants for food and oxygen generation aboard the space station is a key step in the planning of longer-duration, deep space missions where frequent resupply missions may not be a possibility.
Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST.
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