NASA Space Biology Research System


In the fluidic cartridge, all wells are connected fluidically. When cell growth media is introduced into the cartridge, wells preloaded with yeast cells turn pink while neighboring empty wells remain blue.

The Application

NASA BioSentinel project allows studying of biology in space using yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair beyond low Earth orbit.

The Challenge

Fluidic cartridge required a compact fluidic device to grow and monitor yeast cells.  Additional requirements included:

  • Yeast cell isolation within each of the wells

  • Cell growth monitoring via optical density and growth medium color change

  • Interconnected fluidic path to single source of fluidic input and continuous growth medium exchange

The Solution

Wainamics developed a multi-layer lamination based fluidic cartridge incorporating many different plastic materials and filters to ensure low vapor transmission and optical transparency.  Cartridge is optimized for sterilization, cell loading, and growth monitoring. Rapid prototyping method is used to allow fluidic path and cell assay optimization.

The Result

Each fluidic card has 16 wells containing wild type strain and radiation=sensitized strain.  Cell growth isolation and bubble free fluidic exchange can be achieved in zero gravity.  System has been selected to fly on the Space Launch System's first Exploration Mission (EM-1) planned to launch in 2020.