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The company said that it has successfully completed its first in-orbit experiment using its miniature end-to-end space laboratory.
On March 17, 2017 SpacePharma SA, a Switzerland-based company offering microgravity services, announced that it has completed its first in-orbit experiment using mGnify, the company’s miniaturized, end-to-end commercial space laboratory. In a statement, the company said it now offers researchers affordable access to microgravity via three platforms: ground simulators, parabolic flights, and Earth orbiting nanosatellites.
The experiment studied the effect of microgravity on the kinetic profile of enzymatic reactions. This biochemical reaction study, which was commissioned by Professor Rainer Fischer and Raluca Ostafefrom, PhD, both from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Germany, is one of four experiments aboard DIDO2 for SpacePharma customers. DIDO2, SpacePharma’s CubeSat, is a solar-powered nanosatellite that uses ultra-high frequency/very-high frequency and S-band communications to and from Earth.
Inside DIDO2 is mGnify. mGnify consists of an advanced laboratory carrying a total of four experiments from four different scientific domains (biochemistry, organic crystallization, self-assembly of nano-blocks, and fluid physics). The lab consists of a remotely activated fluid circuit, various sensors, and optical results readers. DIDO2 was launched on Feb. 14, 2017 and after making successful communication with the nanosatellite on Feb. 17, 2017, SpacePharma’s ground station in Switzerland activated mGnify and turned Earth-based control and management over to Fischer and his team.
"There are quite a few experiments that show that microgravity has influence on living organisms, however very little is known about the nature of this effect. As enzymes are involved in all functions of living cells it is logical to assume that the effects of microgravity could be observed at this level,” Fischer said in a statement. “Fraunhofer IME was very happy to team up with SpacePharma in order to test different hypothesis about enzyme kinetics. Using SpacePharma technology, we are able to perform experiments in space from the comfort of our office and we are very excited about the results and future possibilities that this technology offers."
The experiment carried out was monitored by the miniaturized spectrophotometer and light microscope readers on-board mGnify and demonstrated the capability of SpacePharma’s integrated end-to-end system to transmit the information back to Earth through the proprietary front-end software. DIDO2 and its mGnfiy will remain in orbit approximately 500 kilometers above Earth for up to three years. SpacePharma currently has plans to conduct additional nanosatellite launches with many more experiments using mGnify later this year.