RX23 – VIPER (Vaporizing Ice Penetration Experiment on a Rocket)

FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences (FH Aachen), GERMANY

Launch Date: TBD 2018

For hundreds of years, anstronoms are trying to answer the question about the existence of extraterrestrial life. By now, they weren’t successful. But there are chances to find marks of extraterrestrial life in our own solar system. One of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, mostly consists out of ice. Under its icy surface, scientists presume an ocean. In there, we probably can find evidence for life. But how can we reach this ocean? Obviously, it’s no problem to reach Enceladus, as a couple of missions proof. Cassini for example flew to saturn and separated Huygens, which landed on Titan on 14.01.2005. But when we are there, how can we get through the ice? Of course, we need to melt our way through it. So far, there haven’t been any experiments dealing with melting through ice in vacuum and under microgravity conditions. As FH Aachen already has a working icemole (a robot that can melt through the ice), we want to add some space related knowledge that could lead into a future mission to the ocean of Enceladus. Therefore, we will design a box that contains 3 containers (50×50 mm) filled with ice. Three probes will be heated up and pressed on the ice with a constant force. The ice containers will be cooled to simulate an endless ice surface. The ice temperature will be measured, as well as the force acting on the probes and the melting depth.

 

RX20 – CEMIOS (Electrophysiological study investigating cellular effects of weightlessness induced oocyte samples)

Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts University of Bern, Switzerland

Launch Date: 15 March 2016

Prolonged exposure to microgravity has several severe effects on physiology. Muscle wasting (atrophy) and loss in bone density are among the well-known adaptation processes observed in human space flight. Extensive research demonstrated that cells have multiple mechanisms to detect external mechanical forces. However, the exact mechanism by means of which cells can detect gravity are still unknown. Previous studies have shown, that mechanosensitive ion channels could be among the key players.

In this project, the effect of microgravity on a mechanosensitive ion channel shall be studied aboard a sounding rocket. The ion channel of interest will be overexpressed in 6 frog eggs (oocytes) from the Xenopus Leavis.

In electrophysiological measurements, the voltage dependent ion current across an electrically isolated patch of the oocyte’s cell membrane shall be determined under microgravity conditions. Ions will not only flow through the channels of interest, creating an undesired background signal. By applying drugs specifically blocking the channel of interest, the background signal can be determined. Such electrophysiological measurements have not been done before aboard a sounding rocket. Therefore, this experiment shall also demonstrate the feasibility of such experiments.

 

BX16 – Daemon (Continuous monitoring of the DNA damage due to solar radiation)

Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

Launch Date: 8 October 2013

Solar light, specifically the ultraviolet component of the solar spectrum is an essential environmental factor for life. Solar radiation can enhance or damage the living systems. The main target for the UV radiation is the nucleic acid, important component of the living systems. The UV damage of DNA can model the stochastic damage of the living cells. The experiment will continuously monitor the variation of the damaging effect with altitude from the Earth’s surface to the stratosphere, i.e. from the ozone shielded state of the living systems to the decreased ozone concentration state. The experiment will follow the development of the DNA damage by optical/spectroscopic methods. The experiment can provide valuable extension to the results of BioDos. The measurement methods and the results of the two projects can contribute to future satellite missions and allows more complete understanding of the biological risk and the space safety.

Daemon Final SED

 

BX16 – FLASH (Fluid LAb in the StratopsHere)

Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg, Germany; Julian-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, Germany; Max Delbrueck Centrum, Berlin, Germany

Launch Date: 8 October 2013

FLASH is a project that aims to transport living human cells into higher parts of our atmosphere to learn about the effects of cosmic radiation on the 3D nanostructure of their genome. In the subsequent laboratory analysis nanoscopy  will be used which is a new approach for the sensitive detection and analysis of irradiation effects on organisms. The motivation for this undertaking is the fact that the effects of low dose radiation, and especially of complex compound radiation such as of cosmic origin, are still a topic of current research as well as of pivotal significance for human space flight and, in the long run, cancer research. Owing to its complexity, cosmic radiation is extremely difficult to replicate on the ground. Thus, the FLASH project is taking part in the BEXUS program of the DLR and the SNSB to use a balloon to get better access to cosmic radiation over several hours.

 

BX15 – BioDos (Continuous measurement of the change of UV radiation in dependence of altitude – Testing new method of measuring effects of UV radiation on biological systems)

Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

Launch Date: 25 September 2012

Ultraviolet radiation is the driving force for the majority of living systems on Earth. It is therefore important to study and understand the role of UV photons in the evolution of early life on Earth, and the possibility of interplanetary transport (Panspermia). Both processes can be enhanced or hindered by UV photons. To investigate these effects, the Semmelweis University Research Group for Biophysics (RGB) have developed DNA based biological UV dosimeters, to assess the biological hazards of UV radiation. The biological UV detectors can be considered as models of living systems, whilst the effects of UV radiation can be measured by observing the spectroscopic changes in optical density of the samples. The BioDos experiment will serve as a pilot experiment for later satellite-based missions, since the high altitude environment of the BEXUS platform is a good representation of near space conditions, in terms of UV radiation.

BioDOS Conference Paper