The University of Colorado at Boulder-based BioServe Space Technologies Center will be flying experiments ranging from ladybugs and butterflies to biomedicine and water purification on a space shuttle slated for launch July 20.
Scheduled for launch from Cape Kennedy, Fla., the five-day flight of NASA's space shuttle Columbia may be the last of BioServe's 13 microgravity space shuttle missions prior to the center's first International Space Station mission in July 2000.
Founded by NASA in 1987, BioServe is a joint venture of CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering department, Kansas State University and industry sponsors.
BioServe will fly three bioprocessing payloads on Columbia, which provide thermally controlled environments and automated processing of biological samples in space.
One payload will carry experiments for BioServe's industrial sponsors and another involves a National Institutes of Health experiment, said David Klaus, BioServe's mission manager for the space shuttle launch. A third payload involving K-12 student outreach is being flown for the first time under NASA's new Space Technology And Research for Students, or STARS program, said Klaus.
"One of the most intriguing STARS experiments was developed by the all-girl Javiera High School in Santiago, Chile," said BioServe Associate Director Louis Stodieck, principal investigator on the STARS program. Since space station astronauts will grow plants for food, the Chilean students proposed a test involving the behavior of ladybugs and their primary prey, aphids, in low gravity.
The objective will be to document the movements of ladybugs, which hunt upward on wheat stalks, and aphids, which jump down to escape. High-powered cameras will download images and post them on the Web for use by other students at: eol5a.erim-int.com/CMAT/RE_ladybugs/FlightData/DataIndex.html.