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Final space shuttle to carry 5 CU-Boulder-built payloads
Date:7/5/2011

Atlantis in sets of specially designed fluid-processing cylinders built by BioServe known as GAPs, said Stodieck. Each GAP holds eight test-tube-like devices that allow Salmonella and growth media to be mixed in space. Astronauts will operate the experiments using hand cranks to first trigger cell growth via fluid mixing and later to terminate it.

A third payload will allow researchers to examine genetic alterations spurred by cellular changes in yeast. Since some cells have been shown to undergo significant changes in microgravity -- like producing larger quantities of rare antibiotics or making large amounts of bioactive medicinal proteins -- the team will analyze 6,000 different genetically altered yeast strains aboard the payload to identify specific genes that are linked to such space-based changes. This knowledge could someday help efforts to produce new and better medicines, said Stodieck.

Led by Timothy Hammond of the Veteran's Administration in Washington, D.C., the payload will be flown inside two types of BioServe flight hardware known as an opticell processing module and a plate habitat that rides inside a BioServe Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, or CGBA. The CGBA is an automated, suitcase-sized device developed by CU-Boulder that has been launched on more than 20 NASA space shuttle missions and which provides steady temperature control. There currently are two BioServe CGBA devices on the International Space Station, one of which will be used for processing the yeast experiment at an elevated temperature.

A fourth payload involving biofilms may help scientists understand how and why slimy and troublesome clumps of microorganisms flourish in the low-gravity conditions of space. The experiments on biofilms -- clusters of microorganisms that adhere to each other or to various surfaces -- are of high interest to space scientists because of their potential impacts on astronaut and spacecraft health, said Stodieck.

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Contact: Louis Stodieck
stodieck@colorado.edu
303-492-4010
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert  

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