Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Adapts Miniature Biological Lab For Use In Space

Date:
October 31, 2003
Source:
NASA/Ames Research Center
Summary:
NASA is adapting tiny laboratories embedded in compact discs (CDs) to conduct biological tests aboard the International Space Station and to eventually look for life on other planets.

NASA is adapting tiny laboratories embedded in compact discs (CDs) to conduct biological tests aboard the International Space Station and to eventually look for life on other planets.

Related Articles


The CDs, with imbedded biological tests, are under evaluation by NASA scientists, and several academic and industrial partners. The miniature laboratories were adapted to detect life forms and chemicals derived from life. NASA's partners are Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.; Nanogen, Inc., La Jolla, Calif.; and the University of California, Irvine, Calif.

"This type of technology will enhance the International Space Station capability as a biological laboratory with greatly increased throughput and state-of-the-art techniques," said G. Scott Hubbard, director of the NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Calif. "Someday, this technology could allow astronauts or robots to search for life on other planets or moons," Hubbard said.

To process the CDs, the researchers adapted a suitcase-sized prototype instrument undergoing laboratory trials at ARC. There are two versions of the CDs, which are about the same size as music CDs. One is plastic, similar to a standard CD, and is disposable. The other is made of glass and is reusable.

"These tiny labs on CDs allow you to do thousands of tests of biological samples quickly and in the field," said Michael Flynn, a scientist at ARC. "On the Space Station, the types of tests you would do are DNA analyses," Flynn said.

To begin a test, a scientist places a liquid sample into a small opening near the center of the CD. The researcher puts the disc in the prototype machine that spins the CD. Centrifugal force spreads the sample fluid from the center of the CD through tiny, capillary-like pipes and valves towards the outer edges of the disc and several clear observation areas.

During the journey, special dyes in the CD combine with the sample. The dyes glow when exposed to specific proteins and other chemicals, including particular portions of DNA. The instrument shines a specific color light on the specimen, and if it glows in another specific color, the specimen contains the substance the dye was designed to detect. The CD system can even sample water, and the instrument's software has image analysis capability that can discriminate between cells and debris. A microscope and digital camera built into the prototype instrument take images of the glowing test sample in the clear observation area after the disc stops spinning.

"There're already thousands of fluorescent test solutions available for conducting biological tests on bacteria, proteins, viruses and other life-related chemicals," Flynn said. "The lab-on-a-CD system allows us to automate a process that traditionally was very time-consuming and expensive."

The next step in evaluation of the prototype is to develop more tests to determine how well the device works. Eventually, researchers want to add a multi-disk changer to the instrument, so it can test several CDs.

"We have worked with many different commercial vendors and individuals to combine a variety of commercially available technologies into an integrated microgravity-compatible instrument," Flynn said. Potential spin-offs could be clinical uses in hospitals, physicians' offices and laboratories.

NASA's Fundamental Space Biology Division, Office of Biological and Physical Research (OBPR), Washington, funds this research. Publication-size images are available at: http://amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2003/03images/biolabs/biolabs.html

Broadcast-quality sound files of interviews suitable for radio broadcast are at: http://amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/audio/biolabs/biolabs.html

More information about OBPR and space research is available at: http://spaceresearch.nasa.gov/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Ames Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Ames Research Center. "NASA Adapts Miniature Biological Lab For Use In Space." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031030063513.htm>.
NASA/Ames Research Center. (2003, October 31). NASA Adapts Miniature Biological Lab For Use In Space. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031030063513.htm
NASA/Ames Research Center. "NASA Adapts Miniature Biological Lab For Use In Space." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031030063513.htm (accessed December 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA Prepares for Next Phase of Hubble Successor

NASA Prepares for Next Phase of Hubble Successor

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Scientists and engineers prepare for the next phase of the James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific successor to the Hubble. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins