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Lessons learned about spaceflight and cell biology experimentsConducting cell biology experiments in microgravity can be among the most technically challenging events in a biologist's life. Conflicting events of spaceflight include waiting to get manifested, delays in manifest schedules, training astronauts to not shake your cultures and to add reagents slowly, as shaking or quick injection can activate signaling cascades and give you erroneous results. It is important to select good hardware that is reliable. Possible conflicting environments in flight include g-force and vibration of launch, exposure of cells to microgravity for extended periods until hardware is turned on, changes in cabin gases and cosmic radiation. One should have an on-board 1-g control centrifuge in order to eliminate environmental differences. Other obstacles include getting your funding in a timely manner (it is not uncommon for two to three years to pass between notification of grant approval for funding and actually getting funded). That said, it is important to note that microgravity research is worthwhile since all terrestrial life evolved in a gravity field and secrets of biological function may only be answered by removing the constant of gravity. Finally, spaceflight experiments are rewarding and worth your effort and patience.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Hughes-Fulford, Millie (Northern California Institute for Research and Education San Francisco, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
March 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of gravitational physiology : a journal of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology
Volume: 11
Issue: 1
ISSN: 1077-9248
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
Flight Experiment
short duration
STS Shuttle Project
Non-NASA Center
NASA Discipline Cell Biology