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Space Biology Researchers Launch Payload on Blue Origin New Shepard-17 Suborbital Flight

Status Report From: NASA Space Life and Physical Sciences
Posted: Saturday, October 30, 2021

Rob Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul of the University of Florida flew their FLEX BLISS (FLEXible Imaging System BioLogical Imaging Suborbital Science) payload to suborbital space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard-17 (NS-17) on August 26.  The single locker payload included an automated image capture system of plant biology on Petri plates, designed to capture fluorescent images at a resolution and rate that can describe the movement of messages within plants (or any biology that can fit onto Petri plates) during flight.  This experiment used Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) reporters that monitor calcium waves.  

This flight leveraged both hardware and biological reporter developments funded by the Flight Opportunities Program and was a preliminary flight for the Space Biology grant titled “The Role of Ca2+ Signaling during the Early Events of Plant Adaptation to Spaceflight,” which includes a collaboration between the University of Florida (PI Rob Ferl and Co-I Anna-Lisa Paul) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Co-Is Simon Gilroy and Sarah Swanson).  Preliminary examination of the data indicates calcium signaling occurs within specific portions of the suborbital flight profile.  

The next flight in 2022 will examine a similar reporter system within a suite of genetic backgrounds in order to determine the source of those signals. You can read more about this mission here.
 

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