Exploring the Impact of Gravity on Microbial Growth: A NASA Collaboration

In a groundbreaking research endeavor, faculty members from the Oregon State University College of Engineering, Dorthe Wildenschild and Tala Navab-Daneshmand, are collaborating with NASA on a National Science Foundation project that delves into the impact of gravity on microbial growth. This innovative study involves sending specimens to the International Space Station (ISS) to investigate the formation of biofilms in partially and variably water-saturated porous media. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of biofilms in space and its implications for both Earth and space exploration.

The Importance of Biofilms

Discover the significance of biofilms and their impact on various fields.

Exploring the Impact of Gravity on Microbial Growth: A NASA Collaboration - 1443737935

Biofilms are clusters of microorganisms that adhere to surfaces, and their formation plays a crucial role in various fields, including groundwater remediation, water treatment, agriculture, and medical devices.

By understanding how biofilms develop in environments with non-uniform water distribution, scientists can enhance techniques for addressing biofilm-related issues on Earth.

Exploring Microbial Growth in Space

Learn how the collaboration between Oregon State University and NASA is investigating microbial growth in a microgravity environment.

This research project holds significant implications for the exploration of space and the well-being of astronauts during crewed spaceflights.

Insights into how microgravity influences biofilm behavior can help engineers design more effective systems and contribute to maintaining crew health in space.

Wildenschild and Navab-Daneshmand are preparing to send samples from OSU to the ISS in the near future. By involving astronauts in live-communicated work on the samples during STEM outreach events at Oregon State, they hope to engage the public and inspire future scientists.

Extensive preparations and detailed protocols will ensure the success of this multi-year endeavor.

The Role of Capillarity and Gravity

Explore the interplay between capillarity and gravitational forces in microbial growth.

The project aims to investigate the interplay between capillarity and gravitational forces in microbial growth.

Capillarity, driven by surface tension, plays a crucial role in liquid movement in narrow spaces.

By eliminating the effects of gravity in the microgravity environment of space, scientists can study how capillarity and gravity interact to influence the formation and architecture of biofilms within porous materials.

Through careful control of viscosity, a comparison of growth patterns on Earth and in microgravity, and the use of microCT scans upon return to Earth, researchers aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of gravity and capillarity in biofilm development.

The three-dimensional views provided by the scans will reveal intricate details, deepening our knowledge of how these forces shape biofilm formation.

Implications for Earth and Space Exploration

Discover how insights from this research project can benefit both Earth and space exploration.

Understanding biofilm formation can have applications in groundwater remediation, water treatment, agriculture, and the prevention of biofilm-related issues in medical devices.

Insights into altered microbial behavior in microgravity can help improve engineered systems and maintain crew health during spaceflights.

This research collaboration between Oregon State University and NASA has the potential to contribute to advancements in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments.

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