Home / Science / Cygnus is taking E. coli, Sextants, and a cold Atom lab to the international space station

Cygnus is taking E. coli, Sextants, and a cold Atom lab to the international space station

Take a look at the scientific experiments & # 39; weird & # 39; that the orbital ATK refueling vehicle will bring to the ISS at its launch on May 21.

The orbiting ATK Cygnus spacecraft is directed to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver more than 3 tons of cargo to the crew of Expedition 55.

Known as the OA-9 refueling mission, since which is the ninth installment of the company hired by NASA, the Cygnus takeoff has been rescheduled for Monday (May 21) after weather concerns have forced Orbital ATK to discard the May 20 launch that it had originally planned .

Even with this 24-hour delay, the Cygnus mission is highly anticipated and promises to be exceptionally interesting, judging from the unusual nature of its charge.

Replenishment The vehicle has the task of transporting 7,385 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of scientific experiments, crew supplies and the hardware of the vehicle intended to arrive on board the ISS. The scientific experiments that will soon take off in orbit on an ATK Antares Orbital rocket are particularly exciting, especially since NASA has included some oddities among them, notes Space.com .

The media makes a list of the "strange" science that is about to make the trip to space, which was also detailed by NASA this week, both in a press release and in the following video.

The E. Coli Experiment

First, as previously reported Inquisitr the space agency is sending a sample of E. coli bacteria to the ISS to test the resistance to antibiotics at zero-g. The goal of this experiment is to identify which bacterial genes make E. coli immune to antibiotics and find ways to protect astronauts against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

BEST – Sequencing The RNA of the ISS microbes

Also related to the study of bacteria, the Extraction and sequencing of biomolecules (BEST) experiment is directed to the ISS to examine how microbes react to zero gravity and if the Spaces influence the way they mutate.

The project will test a new technique for sequencing the genome of the microbes found on board the ISS by using its DNA and RNA. This eliminates the need to grow organisms first, explains lead researcher Sarah Wallace.

"In this way, we can identify microbes that can not be detected using traditional culture methods, and we are not increasing the amount of potential pathogens that could be present in the station."

Playing with Sextants

] The Cygnus spacecraft will supply the Expedition 55 crew with antiquated sextants as part of a scientific experiment to find out if these instruments can be used as emergency navigation tools.

The Sextant Navigation experiment aims to discover whether the centuries-old instrument can be used as a portable navigation aid to help astronauts find their way into space by looking at the angles between the moon, stars and planets.

Such a technique would be useful for astronauts who are potentially abandoned without communications or sufficient computer skills, take note from Greg Holt, the principal investigator of the project.

"There is no need to reinvent the wheel with regard to celestial navigation, we want a robust and mechanical backup with as few parts and as little need for energy as possible to return home safely."

Does anyone order some ICE cubes?

Last year, the ISS launched the IceCube mini-satellite and sent it on its path in Earth orbit. This year, the space station is receiving a different type of ICE Cube. Officially called ICE Cube Service, where the acronym stands for International Commercial Experiment, this science project represents the first European commercial opportunity to carry out research on board the ISS.

This new experiment is based on a "unique laboratory" that is composed NASA explains:

Developed by the European Space Agency in association with Space Application Services (SpaceAps), the ICE cubes will be installed in the Columbus module of The space station and each one will contain a different experiment, ranging from "pharmaceutical development to experiments with stem cells, radiation and microbiology, fluid sciences and more," reveals NASA.

According to for Space.com one of the ICE cubes will be dedicated to an experiment that will examine how methane can be produced in microgravity by using bacteria, while another will have different plant seeds to study how they germinate in various spatial conditions.

Hilde Stenuit, of SpaceAps, comments on the nature of the project, revealing that it would free access to space for a large number of companies that wish to carry out scientific research on board the ISS.

"The idea is to provide fast, direct and affordable access to the space for research, technology and education for any organization or client".

CAL, The Atomic Fridge That will make the ISS the coldest place in the universe

The icing on the cake of science that will soon be delivered is without a doubt the Laboratory of Cold Atoms (CAL) of NASA, a physics research center that acts as an atomic refrigerator and aims to study ultra-cold atoms in microgravity.

The reason why NASA sends this experiment to space is because the zero gravity environment aboard the ISS will allow CAL study these atoms for a period of time longer than it would be on Earth.

To closely observe these atoms, CAL will first create a place within the facility that is 10 billion times colder than the void of space, thus making the space station the coldest known place in the universe, ] Motherboard reports.

Then, the atomic refrigerator will use "laser beams and magnetic forces to slow down atoms until they are almost motionless," says the NASA press release. The goal of this unparalleled experiment is to find answers to some of the most puzzling questions in quantum physics.


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