[FPSPACE] FW: STFC: UK samples set for a taste of space

LARRY KLAES ljk4 at msn.com
Tue Sep 11 11:51:11 EDT 2007

>From: Lynn Cominsky <lynnc at universe.sonoma.edu>
>To: lynnc at universe.sonoma.edu
>Subject: STFC: UK samples set for a taste of space
>Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 08:07:03 -0700
>AMERICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY.) Lynn Cominsky, American Astronomical 
>UK samples set for a taste of space
>Samples of micro organisms, antibodies, fluorescent dyes and rock from
>Devon are amongst a European payload which will be sent into near Earth
>orbit this week onboard an unmanned Russian spacecraft – exposing them to
>the extreme conditions found in space.
>The Foton - M3 capsule will be launched by a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur
>Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday 14th September at 12 noon BST (1700 
>time). After 9 minutes of propelled flight the Foton will reach a low earth
>orbit where it will remain for 11.8 days before the re-entry capsule will
>return to Earth.
>The Foton-M3 will be carrying a European payload of 400 kg covering
>experiments in a wide range of disciplines including fluid physics, 
>crystal growth, meteoritics, radiation dosimetry and exobiology.
>The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Biopan facility which is attached to 
>outside of the Foton will be used to expose experiment samples directly to
>the space environment in order to study the impact of space’s extreme
>temperatures, ultraviolet, cosmic and other solar radiation, and 
>Amongst the samples that make up the Biopan payload are the following which
>are in part funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council
>•	Antibodies and fluorescent dyes to be used in the Life Marker Chip
>         (LMC) instrument that is being developed under UK lead for
>         ESA’s ExoMars mission
>•	Micro organisms for ESA’s STONE artificial meteorite experiment
>•	Rock samples containing micro organisms from cliffs at Beer, East Devon
>The LMC will look for specific molecules associated with life by detecting
>biomarkers. Such techniques have been developed in the medical and
>biotechnology sectors but have not been used in space before. LMC lead
>scientist Dr Mark Sims from University of Leicester, comments, “Space is
>inherently a risky business but there are only so many tests that you can
>do on the ground. Biopan provides us with a platform to expose biological
>samples to a space environment and gives us the opportunity to expose our
>biosensor components to a space radiation environment in order to confirm
>their survivability.”
>Dr David Cullen, LMC scientist and lead scientist on the LMC on Biopan
>experiment, from Cranfield University adds, “We will be testing the 
>effect of
>various extreme environments encountered during space flight of antibodies 
>fluorescent dyes such as the effects of launch and re-entry, ground 
>and the space radiation environment – all critical issues for a future
>Mars mission.”
>Also onboard Biopan, all be it on the outside of the capsule, are samples 
>micro organisms that make up the ESA STONE artificial meteorite experiment.
>The organisms are dried onto the underside of several artificial meteorites
>made from sedimentary and igneous rocks which are attached to the outside
>of the heat shield – exposing them fully to the space environment.
>This follows up an experiment flown on the previous Foton flight which
>demonstrated how the atmospheric transit of organisms acts as a strong
>biogeographical dispersal filter to the interplanetary transfer of
>photosynthesis. This time the experiment will focus on whether by being
>on the underside of different materials effects the survival of organisms
>during atmospheric entry.
>Professor of Microbiology and STONE scientist Charles Cockell from The Open
>University explains further, “This work advances our knowledge of how 
>biogeography might work on an interplanetary scale. We know that life can
>make it from continent to continent, but what about from planet to planet?
>Of course, at the moment we don’t know of life on another planet, but
>this experiment is an intriguing test of an interplanetary version of an
>old ecological question and can at least tell us whether the Earth has
>always remained a biological island in space.”
>Professor Cockell adds, “We will also be sending up samples of rock from
>Beer in Devon as part of experiment called LITHOPANSPERMIA. The samples
>contain diverse photosynthetic organisms. This is to test the ability of
>organisms to survive in interplanetary conditions. Photosynthesis is the 
>of a productive biosphere, so understanding its ability to be transferred
>between planets is of great interest. ”
>The re-entry capsule is scheduled to land in a remote area on the
>Russian/Kazahkstan border on 26th September where it will be recovered by
>a specialist team. The samples from the ESA experiments will first be
>transported to its ESTEC facility in the Netherlands and then to various
>other institutions for further analysis.
>For related ESA materials and to follow the progress of the mission see
>Press Contacts
>Gill Ormrod – Science and Technology Facilities Council Press Office
>Tel: 01793 442012. Mobile : 0781 8013509
>Email: gill.ormrod at stfc.ac.uk
>Franco Bonacina – ESA Media Relations
>Tel: : +33 (0) 1 5369 7155
>Email: Franco.Bonacina1 at esa.int
>UK Science Contacts
>Dr Mark Sims – University of Leicester
>Tel: 0116 2523513
>Email: mrs at star.le.ac.uk
>Dr David Cullen – Cranfield University
>Tel: 01525 863538
>Email: d.cullen at cranfield.ac.uk
>Professor Charles Cockell – The Open University
>Tel: 01908 652588
>Email: c.s.cockell at open.ac.uk
>Notes to Editors
>For images of Foton capsules, samples, the LMC module and the cliffs at
>Beer contact Gill Ormrod – details above. They will also be available at
>Foton missions
>For further details of the Foton missions see
>European involvement in Foton missions
>The European Space Agency has been participating in this kind of mission 
>20 years and the twelve day Foton-M3 mission becomes the twelfth such 
>with ESA involvement.
>The mission is part of an agreement signed between ESA and the Russian
>Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) on 21st October 2003. The agreement 
>two Foton flights (Foton-M2 and Foton-M3), which have a combined total of
>660kg of ESA supplied scientific payloads onboard.
>Biopan has a motor driven, hinged lid and is equipped with devices and
>sensors that measure the various aspects of the environment to which the
>experiments are subjected. Once Foton is in orbit, a telecommand is sent
>from the ground and the lid opens to expose the samples to the environment.
>At the end of the mission, another command is sent and the lid closes. 
>Biopan is on the outside of the Foton, it also has its own ablative heat
>shield to protect the facility and samples during the space craft’s 
>and landing.
>Science and Technology Facilities Council
>The Science and Technology Facilities Council ensures the UK retains its
>leading place on the world stage by delivering world-class science; 
>and hosting international facilities; developing innovative technologies; 
>increasing the socio-economic impact of its research through effective
>knowledge exchange partnerships.
>The Council has a broad science portfolio including Astronomy, Particle
>Physics, Particle Astrophysics, Nuclear Physics, Space Science, Synchrotron
>Radiation, Neutron Sources and High Power Lasers. In addition the Council
>manages and operates three internationally renowned laboratories:
>•       The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire
>•       The Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire
>•       The UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh
>The Council gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds
>the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory 
>Particle Physics (CERN), the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL), European
>Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the European organisation for
>Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and the European 
>Agency (ESA). It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on
>La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, and the MERLIN/VLBI National
>Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
>The Council distributes public money from the Government to support
>scientific research.  Between 2007 and 2008 we will invest
>approximately over 700 million pounds.
>The Council is a partner in the UK space programme, coordinated by the
>British National Space Centre.

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