The International Space Station’s (ISS) Gravitational Biology Facility includes facilities to support cell cultures, rodents, plants, aquatic species, eggs and insects. The Insect Habitat (IHAB) is being provided by the Canadian Space Agency to support the Gravitational Biology Facility. The IHAB will initially support the fruitfly, Drosophila melangaster, but is also designed to hold a variety of other insect species. IHAB’s hardware consists of three elements: the Science Element (SE), the Transport Element (TE), and the Container Element (CE).
One of the SE’s unique features is its capability to provide two independent levels of simulated gravity from the ISS ambient gravity level to 2g. Therefore, the IHAB allows for an in space control group, while the other group is exposed to micro-gravity (or any other allowable gravity level). The biological environment also includes control for illumination, video, temperature and relative humidity.
The TE is responsible for the specimen’s life support during the transport of the specimens between the ground and ISS. The TE controls the same environmental parameters as the SE, minus the video and the gravitational simulation. The CE is responsible for the specimen containment and providing the food to the insects.