NASA announced that the BioSentinel CubeSat is almost ready to fly after the satellite has completed assembly and battery testing. BioSentinel operates at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and is in the final stage of preparations before the spacecraft is sent to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch. The BioSentinel will be sent in a deep space flight that will pass the moon and enter orbit around the sun.
BioSentinel is one of 13 CubeSats that will be launched aboard Artemis I, the first flight of the NASA Artemis Space Launch System program. The image above shows BioSentinel inside an anechoic chamber in Ames while a quality assurance engineer is inspecting. The engineer is inspecting the satellite’s solar panel after completing a test to determine the effects of electromagnetic emissions from space on satellite systems.
BioSentinel will conduct the first long-term biology experiment conducted in deep space. He will conduct a six-month scientific investigation designed to study the effects of radiation from deep space on a living organism. In this case, the living organism used is yeast. Inside the satellite are microfluidic cards used to determine the impact of radiation on the yeast cells housed within the tiny compartments on the card.
Microfluidic cards have a dye that provides a reading of yeast cell activity with a color change from blue to pink. The experiment was designed to help researchers better understand the radiation risks from human exploration of long-term deep space. BioSentinel is also intended to test new technologies using the BioSensor payload as a live radiation detector. The heart of this system is microfluidic cards containing yeast cells. When cells are activated in space, they feel and respond to the damage caused by space radiation.