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Technical Paper

Spaceflight Plant Science Integration, Testing and Functional/Compatibility Verification

Plant growth chambers, whether designed for Earth or space applications, should provide the basic means for supporting healthy plant growth of almost any species. These chambers typically satisfy species- and age-specific light, atmosphere composition, water and nutrient requirements. Engineering solutions to satisfy these basic requirements in different plant chambers may vary widely, and each species or each experimental protocol may need individual testing and adaptation of the supporting hardware and science protocols. This paper will summarize the design trades, tests and evaluation experiments conducted to ensure proper hardware functionality and proper hardware / lifeware compatibility for the desired experimental protocols in space.
Technical Paper

Performance of the STARS Life Sciences Payload During Benchtop Testing and Mission Simulations

BioServe Space Technologies has developed and flown a series of miniature habitats to house several different biological specimens and one biochemical experiment. This effort was in support of an educational program, Space Technology and Research Students (STARS), developed by SPACEHAB Inc. The STARS program gives students from around the world a chance to design and conduct their own spaceflight experiments. STARS-Bootes, the payload flown on STS-107, housed a Japanese Medaka fish experiment; a Chinese silkworm experiment; an American Harvester ant experiment; a Carpenter bee experiment from Liechtenstein, an Australian Orb Weaver spider experiment; and a biochemical crystal growth experiment from Israel. Each habitat was custom designed to suit each specimen's individual needs. The habitats provided passive humidity control, lighting, feeding areas, and containment as well as an artificial environment for the specimens to be observed in.
Technical Paper

Microgravity Root Zone Hydration Systems

Accurate root zone moisture control in microgravity plant growth systems is problematic. With gravity, excess water drains along a vertical gradient, and water recovery is easily accomplished. In microgravity, the distribution of water is less predictable and can easily lead to flooding, as well as anoxia. Microgravity water delivery systems range from solidified agar, water-saturated foams, soils and hydroponics soil surrogates including matrix-free porous tube delivery systems. Surface tension and wetting along the root substrate provides the means for adequate and uniform water distribution. Reliable active soil moisture sensors for an automated microgravity water delivery system currently do not exist. Surrogate parameters such as water delivery pressure have been less successful.
Technical Paper

Mass Transport in a Spaceflight Plant Growth Chamber

The Plant Generic BioProcessing Apparatus (PGBA), a plant growth facility developed for commercial space biotechnology research, has flown successfully on 3 spaceflight missions for 4, 10 and 16 days. The environmental control systems of this plant growth chamber (28 liter/0.075 m2) provide atmospheric, thermal, and humidity control, as well as lighting and nutrient supply. Typical performance profiles of water transpiration and dehumidification, carbon dioxide absorption (photosynthesis) and respiration rates in the PGBA unit (on orbit and ground) are presented. Data were collected on single and mixed crops. Design options and considerations for the different sub-systems are compared with those of similar hardware.
Technical Paper

Habitat Development in Support of Small Scale Biological and Biochemical Space Experiments

BioServe Space Technologies is developing a set of habitats which will support various biological specimens and one biochemical experiment. The habitats are being developed to support a spaceflight educational payload called Space Technology and Research Students (STARS). The STARS program entrusts high school students with the development and design of their own spaceflight experiments. Experiments are solicited from various countries and primarily focus on the life sciences. Once selected, all experiments must be accommodated within one middeck locker sized payload, the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus.
Technical Paper

Designing Fluid Handling Systems for Space Life Science Experimentation

The increased demand in the area of space life sciences necessitates the need for more experimentation hardware with increased capabilities. Due to the high cost of hardware development for space based research, new hardware should be modular in design and suited to handle a variety of different experiments. The fluid handling systems found in experimentation hardware will often share many of the same requirements for different experiments. A design process that can be used for biological fluid handling systems that cover a wide range of experimentation requirements is proposed. Important parameters to be considered when making a trade study for selection of system components will be discussed. This paper will address topics of current research in space life sciences and describe state of the art hardware that is available or under development for use.