Next year, NASA's Artemis 1 mission will carry a baker's dozen of small cubesats to space, including one that's home to a colony of yeast cells. That cubesat, BioSentinel, will orbit the sun to help scientists understand how space radiation affects living organisms outside of Low Earth Orbit. NASA hasn't purposely sent any lifeforms beyond Low Earth Orbit since the last Apollo moon landing in 1972. (Purposely is a key word because of course every probe launched carries some accidental microbial contamination.) From Space.com:
But Apollo 17 lasted less than two weeks. BioSentinel will gather data for nine to 12 months, opening a window on the long-term effects of deep-space radiation on DNA and DNA repair...
The 30-lb. (14 kilograms) satellite will carry two different varieties of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae: the normal "wild type," which is quite radiation-resistant, and a mutant type, which is much more sensitive because it can't repair its DNA nearly as well.
"Importantly, yeast's DNA damage-repair process is highly similar to that of humans, making it a robust translational model," NASA officials wrote on the BioSentinel fact sheet. "BioSentinel's results will be critical for interpreting the effects of space radiation exposure, reducing the risk associated with long-term human exploration and validating existing models of the effects of space radiation on living organisms."
BioSentinel’s microfluidics card (seen above), designed at NASA Ames, will be used to study the impact of interplanetary space radiation on yeast. Once in orbit, the growth and metabolic activity of the yeast will be measured using a 3-color LED detection system and a metabolic indicator dye.
As you may have noticed, a number of bird species have proven capable of mimicking snippets of sound they overhear, be it a melody, the wail of an ambulance or a dirty phrase taught to them by some drunk fella at a party. But here’s the thing: most mammals suck at it. Not so seals. […]
In the New York Times, Kenneth Chang reports that NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has detected high amounts of methane, a gas that is commonly a signature of life. From the NYT: “Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment,” Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission, wrote […]
As part of research on how to make better prosthetic legs, Vanderbilt University engineers put people on a treadmill and made them stumble. Over and over. By better understanding peoples’ stumble reflex, they hope to improve the computer-controlled stumble response in prosthetics. But to learn how people catch themselves, they had to trip them first. […]
Looking for a new tablet? If you haven’t upgraded in a while, it might be time to check out the latest iPad Pro for two very good reasons. First, the 2018 model is a real workhorse. The 12X Bionic chip processor means it can handle any task you set out for it, and still have […]
You want wireless earbuds to make an impact on your mood and workout, not the environment. If that’s the case, we’ve got a new contender for AirPod market share: Brio Phantom X7 True Wireless Earbuds. The features on these tiny, comfortable buds are impressive even without the environmental angle. Their Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity is good […]
We don’t ask for much out of our charging cables: Juice up our phone, do it fast and don’t break. It’s supposed to be simple, but keeping your phone plugged in for the night – as most of us do – can actually degrade the life of your battery by overheating it. That’s why one […]