|Mission type||Astrobiology, space medicine|
|Mission duration||18 months (planned)|
|Manufacturer||NASA / Ames Research Center|
|Launch mass||14 kg (31 lb) |
|Dimensions||10 cm × 20 cm × 30 cm|
|Power||30 watts (solar panels)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||November 2021 (planned) |
|Rocket||SLS Block 1|
|Launch site||KSC, LC-39B|
|Reference system||Heliocentric orbit|
BioSentinel is a planned low-cost CubeSat spacecraft on a astrobiology mission that will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair over long time beyond low Earth orbit.
Selected in 2013 for a 2021 launch, the spacecraft will operate in the deep space radiation environment throughout its 18-month mission. This will help scientists understand the health threat from cosmic rays and deep space environment on living organisms and reduce the risk associated with long-term human exploration, as NASA plans to send humans farther into space than ever before.
BioSentinel is one of thirteen low-cost CubeSat missions selected as secondary payloads for Artemis 1 (formerly known as Exploration Mission 1), the first test flight of NASA's Space Launch System. The spacecraft will be deployed in cis-lunar space. The BioSentinel mission will be NASA's first time since Apollo 17 in 1972, to send living organisms to deep space (beyond low Earth orbit).
The primary objective of BioSentinel is to develop a biosensor using a simple model organism (yeast) to detect, measure, and correlate the impact of space radiation to living organisms over long durations beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) and into heliocentric orbit. While progress has been made with simulations, no terrestrial laboratory can duplicate the unique space radiation environment.
The BioSentinel biosensor uses the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to detect and measure DNA damage response after exposure to the deep space radiation environment. Two yeast strains were selected for this mission: a wild type strain proficient in DNA repair, and a strain defective in the repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs), deleterious lesions generated by ionizing radiation. Budding yeast was selected not only because of its flight heritage, but also because of its similarities with human cells, especially its DSB repair mechanisms. The biosensor consists of specifically engineered yeast strains and growth medium containing a metabolic indicator dye. Therefore, culture growth and metabolic activity of yeast cells directly indicate successful repair of DNA damage.
After completing the Moon flyby and spacecraft checkout, the science mission phase will begin with the wetting of the first set of yeast-containing wells with specialized media. Multiple sets of wells will be activated at different time points over the 18-month mission. One reserve set of wells will be activated in the occurrence of a solar particle event (SPE). Approximately, a 4 to 5 krad total ionizing dose is anticipated. Payload science data and spacecraft telemetry will be stored on board and then downloaded to the ground.
Biological measurements will be compared to data provided by onboard radiation sensors and dosimeters. Additionally, three identical BioSentinel payloads will be developed for comparison reference, one of them will be exposed at low Earth orbit outside the International Space Station (ISS), where there is a comparatively low-radiation environment due to Earth's magnetic field protecting the space station.
The Biosentinel spacecraft will consist on a 6U CubeSat bus format, with external dimensions of 10 cm × 20 cm × 30 cm and a mass of about 14 kg (31 lb). At launch, BioSentinel resides within the second stage on the launch vehicle from which it is deployed to a lunar flyby trajectory and into an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit.
Of the total 6 Units volume, 4 Units will hold the science payload, including a radiation dosimeter and a dedicated 3-color spectrometer for each well; 1U will house the ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem) and 1U will house the attitude control thruster assembly, which will be 3D printed all in one piece: cold gas (DuPont R236fa) propellant tanks, lines and seven nozzles. The use of 3D printing also allows the optimization of space for increased propellant storage (165 grams ). The thrust of each nozzle is 50 mN, and a specific impulse of 31 seconds. The attitude control system is being developed and fabricated by the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The spacecraft is being developed by NASA Ames Research Center (AMR), in collaboration with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and NASA Headquarters.
- Lunar Flashlight will map exposed water ice on the Moon
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout by NASA is a solar sail spacecraft that will encounter a near-Earth asteroid
- BioSentinel is an astrobiology mission
- LunIR by Lockheed Martin Space
- Lunar IceCube, by the Morehead State University
- CubeSat for Solar Particles (CuSP)
- Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), designed by the Arizona State University
- EQUULEUS, submitted by JAXA and the University of Tokyo
- OMOTENASHI, submitted by JAXA, is a lunar lander
- ArgoMoon, designed by Argotec and coordinated by Italian Space Agency (ASI)
- Cislunar Explorers, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
- Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3), University of Colorado Boulder
- Team Miles, by Fluid and Reason LLC, Tampa, Florida
- Astrobiology missions
- Biosatellite program
- List of microorganisms tested in outer space
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- Fact Sheet of BioSentinel, at NASA