Scientific equipment including the first European student experiment reaches the ISS

The Progress M-48 on mission 12P to the ISS was launched into orbit on Friday, 29 August at 03.48 Central European Time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Progress spacecraft acts as a cargo supply vehicle for the ISS. On board the Progress M-48 was European experiment equipment which will play an important part in the mission of ESA astronaut Pedro Duque. The Spaniard will be performing a number of physical science, human physiology, biology and education experiments.

The European cargo flown out by the Progress M-48 includes the WINOGRAD student experiment which will investigate differences between the growth of Winogradski columns in weightlessness and on Earth.

A Winogradski column is a colony of different types of bacteria in which the waste products of one bacterium serve as nutrients for another and vice versa. On Earth they live in pond or lake water and need only light for photosynthesis. This makes them of interest to scientists, who want to find out more about a possible future role for bacteria in long-duration spaceflight. Bacteria could help to dispose of waste or to recycle air and water, and their gas might be used as fuel.

WINOGRAD requires late access because of its living samples. As one of the last payloads it was loaded onto the Progress M-48 just eight hours prior to launch. It will be activated in September by the current ISS crew and will stay active until Pedro Duque arrives in October.

Another European experiment which had major constituents taken to the ISS by the Progress M-48 is PROMISS-2. This experiment aims to understand the fundamental processes which underly protein crystallization.

Equipment and components of three other life science experiments flew to the ISS on this Progress M-48, two of them being NEUROCOG and CARDIOCOG. Belgian ESA astronaut Frank De Winne has already performed both successfully, during the Odissea mission in October 2002. His results need to be f

Contact: Franco Bonacina
European Space Agency

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