A fifth payload will be used to assess the effects of microgravity on the formation, establishment and multiplication of cells in a tropical plant known as Jatropha that produces energy-rich nuts, a popular new renewable crop for biofuels. The team will be looking for genes that help or hinder Jatropha growth to see if new strains can be developed and commercially grown in "warm-temperate" areas like the southern United States. The lead scientist on the experiment is Associate Professor Wagner Vendrame of the University of Florida.
BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-supported center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government. Since 1991 BioServe has flown payloads on 37 NASA space shuttle microgravity missions.
Although NASA's space shuttle program will be shuttered following the Atlantis mission, hardware and experiments developed by BioServe are manifested on various international resupply vehicles traveling to the International Space Station, as well as on U.S. spacecraft now under development, said Stodieck.
"We would be unable to carry out all of our research without the help of CU-Boulder students," he said. "Both undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in designing, building and testing spaceflight payloads, activities that can give them a significant advantage when they move on to careers in the aerospace industry."
BioServe also has flown several K-12 educational experiments on the space station, including seed-germination studies, spid
|Contact: Louis Stodieck|
University of Colorado at Boulder