Reflight of DREAMS-22 Secondary payload

Target Launch Date: Saturday, August 23rd, 2014
Launch Site Selection: Columbus! [Northside High School] (final launch site posted Friday at 7:30pm)


FLIGHT VIDEO: Launch Burst Landing

KickSat Data

Track It Live!
APRS for W4CHS-11

Surface Weather

Radiation sensor
3 axis Accelerometer
3 axis Magnetometer
Vernier O2, CO2, and RH sensors
GPS data logger
Pressure & Temperature
NASA Ames: 3D printed cubesat (still shot with curve of Earth) & Kicksat (in operation and still shot with curve of Earth)

Astrobiology results:
Area samples were taken using sterile swabs at launch site, recovery site, and from the parachute. Agar plates affixed to the payload were exposed for approximately 20 minutes before (one plate) launch, and after recovery. They were subsequently transferred to prepared nutrient media agar plates.Samples were then stored for 48 hours in a cooler, and moved into an incubator. This incubator operates at a temperature gradient with a peak temperature of approx. 30 degrees celsius. After 72 hours, two varieties of fungal growth were observed on the parachute and area launch site area sample plates. No bacteria growth or fungal was observed for plates of the P. flourescens bacteria flown on the payload, or the control plate left in a cooler, and then incubated. No bacterial or fungal growth was observed for any of the plates flown on the payload, or for the control dishes that were kept sealed during the flight and area sampling procedures. The agar on the retrieved flight plates appeared dehydrated/etiolated. May no longer support bacterial growth after irradiation/exposure to stratospheric conditions.
Possible comparison of future results to the astrobiological experiments conducted by NASA for O/OREOS.
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Gram positive cocci bacteria seen at 40x magnification. This sample, from an isolated colony, was cultured from a saliva sample and imaged with the described lab setup.
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Gram positive bacilli and spirulli bacteria, saliva sample, 40x magnification.

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A side-by-side comparison of two agar plates; the plate on right flew on the payload, while the plate on the left did not.
Notice how the flight plate on the right appears dehydrated compared to the group sample plate. No fungal or bacteria growth was observed for either plate.

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Two fungal colony of different varieties on an area sample plate. Hyphae from the lower colony imaged at 10x magnification. Note yellow tint of nutrient agar around the colony. Hyphae pictured are more closely packed and small than those of the other variety of fungus.

10x magnification

From the parachute sample plate, the fungus here exhibits fringing hyphae less tightly packed than those described above, on area sample D.

Future considerations:
  • does storage for over 8 hours inhibit bacterial growth, and is this the cause for the lack of bacterial growth? NOTE: saliva samples cultured in the same incubator yielded abundant bacterial growth.
  • is fungal cross-contamination of agar plates a issue?
  • were all environmental sampling procedures conducted correctly?
  • is nutrient agar media appropriate for culturing microbes that inhabit a low-nutrient environment?
  • should fungal growth be prevented with an antifungal agent in the culturing media?
  • was the P. florescens bacteria viable? did it degrade/denature throughout the approx. 50 days kept in a refrigerator? a gram stain on the vial of hydrated bacteria did not yield any visible cells.
  • will it change upon exposure to a high UV environment? (conduct ground testing)
  • etc
Potential Sources of Error:
  • agar was prepared two separate times for the flight and the lab verification procedure
  • no fume hood was available for use
  • seal is not ensured on the petri dishes
  • sterilization process relies on the heat of the agar when poured to kills microbes on plate (purchased and ensured sterile from Carolina biological), and did not utilize autoclave due to availability