Micro-6 Experiment Returns from ISS
All on-orbit operations for the Micro-6 experiment were completed and the samples were returned to earth on October 28, 2012 on SpaceX-1 Dragon. The Micro-6 experiment was designed by Dr. Sheila Neilsen-Preiss of Montana State University who hopes to study how spaceflight affects the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans. When cells are exposed to spaceflight they may acquire potentially harmful properties, including increased potential for infection and increased resistance to antimicrobial compounds. A greater understanding of the effects of space flight on potentially infectious organisms is critical. The goal of Micro-6 is to understand the response of reduced gravitational force on the yeast Candida albicans by comparing cells grown in microgravity to those grown in normal gravity. The team will examine differences in gene expression, biofilm formation, and the susceptibility of the yeast to an antimicrobial agent. Understanding the different responses and physical effects of microgravity on the yeast Candida albicans may provide new insights into better management and treatment of Candida infections both in space and on the ground when they occur.
In early October, the PI and her team arrived at KSC to start their pre-flight preparations. They prepared and loaded the BioServe GAP (Group Activation Pack) hardware with their organisms, growth media and a fixative. The hardware was handed over for load onto the SpaceX capsule a little over 24 hours before launch. After a successful launch on October 7, 2012 and docking to the ISS three days later, the Micro-6 samples were accessed and loaded into CGBAs (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus) to provide temperature control. A portion of the samples were activated and terminated shortly after docking while the remaining samples were activated and terminated as late in the mission as possible. After all operations were completed, the samples were loaded back into the SpaceX Dragon capsule for their ride back to earth. The SpaceX-1 capsule splashed-down on October 28 and the samples arrived at port 2 days later where BioServe and the PI were waiting to ship them to the PIs labs at MSU. As soon as samples arrived at MSU, the hardware was dismantled and post-flight analysis of the samples was started.
More about Micro-6, here: