Excited about India’s first manned mission, Gaganyaan? Well researchers at IISc and ISRO have developed a modular device to cultivate microorganisms, which could help carry out biological experiments in space for this mission.
Crux of the Matter
Tell Me More About Gaganyaan
It is India’s first human spaceflight programme, which will carry a crew of 3 to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), to perform experiments on the micro-gravity platform in space, and return them back to earth.
What’s A Lab-on-chip?
It is a device that integrates one or more laboratory functions on one integrated circuit.
What Can The Latest Device Do?
As per a study by Acta Astronautica, the device can activate and track the growth of ‘Sporosarcina pasteurii’ bacteria. This will help us understand how microbes behave in an extreme environment.
It has separate compartments or ‘cassettes’ for different experiments. Each of them contain bacteria and a nutrient medium, that can start growing by turning on a switch remotely. The device uses a combination of Light Emitting Diode (LED) and photodiode sensor to track this bacterial growth.
Only 1 Watt Needed?
Yes. Data from each cassette is collected and stored independently. Every 3 of them consume under 1 watt of power. The researchers envision that a full payload will be capable of carrying out 12 independent experiments.
Have They Tested It?
Yes. Using an electron microscope, it was confirmed that spores multiplied inside the device. In the future models, it can be adapted for studying organisms like worms.
Now that we know that this proof-of-concept works, we can get a flight model (of the device) ready.
Koushik Viswanathan, senior author of the study
This would include optimising its performance under vibration and acceleration due to gravity.
In January 2020, ISRO announced Vyommitra, a female-looking humanoid robot for uncrewed experimental Gaganyaan missions. Vyommitra is expected to perform microgravity experiments, monitor module parameters, and support astronauts in crewed missions.