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NASA Selects Three Space Biology Proposals to Prepare for Future Research on the Surface of the Moon

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, September 10, 2021

The measurement of the effects of space-relevant stresses on organisms, and fundamental research into the underlying mechanisms of those effects, are core components of NASA's Space Biology Program. These stresses include galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), solar particle events (SPEs), and reduced gravity. Notably, to date, biological experiments in space have mainly been conducted within Low Earth Orbit (LEO) (e.g., via the Space Shuttle Program, on the International Space Station (ISS), or small satellite missions). Only a few biological experiments have been conducted beyond LEO; therefore, the biological effects of conditions beyond LEO are still poorly understood.

 

The selected research projects seek to widen our understanding of biological responses beyond LEO by preparing experiments in which yeast, a eukaryotic microorganism, will be grown and monitored on the lunar surface utilizing the BioSensor hardware. This hardware consists of a microfluidic system that allows for the culturing of yeast and the measurement of cell growth and metabolic activity. The lunar surface is particularly distinctive in that organisms will experience a radiation environment that is unique from that found in LEO on the ISS, that includes GCR and neutrons, the latter of which are secondary particles generated from the interactions of primary particles with the lunar surface.

 

The announced awards will not involve the flight opportunity itself, but rather the integration of the proposed experimental payloads into the Biosensor hardware and biocompatibility testing on the ground to establish a functional experimental payload that is flight-ready for future missions. Awards will also support additional ground-based studies to examine the effects of simulated lunar conditions on the proposed model system.

 

The full text of the announcement, which includes the complete list of the selected proposals, principal investigators and organizations, can be found at:NASA Selects Three Space Biology Proposals to Prepare for Future Research on the Surface of the Moon.


Astrobiology, Space Biology, Microgravity

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