NASA’s BioSentinel has carried living organisms farther from Earth than ever before—more than one million miles. On board the shoebox-sized CubeSat are microorganisms in the form of yeast—the same yeast that makes bread rise and beer brew. On Dec. 5, BioSentinel was 655,730 miles from Earth when the BioSentinel team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley sent commands to the spacecraft to launch the initial experiment for the first long-term biological study in deep space. Scientists are now able to see how living organisms respond to radiation in deep space.
The Artemis mission to the moon will prepare humans to travel on increasingly distant and longer missions to destinations such as Mars. Because yeast cells have similar biological mechanisms to human cells, including DNA damage and repair, studying yeast in space will help us better understand the risks of cosmic radiation to humans and other biological organisms. BioSentinel’s scientific results will fill critical gaps in knowledge about deep space health risks posed by cosmic rays.
BioSentinel – which launched aboard Artemis I – orbits the Sun and is positioned behind Earth’s protective magnetic field. There, the CubeSat will conduct a series of experiments over the next five to six months. NASA invites the public to take a virtual ride along BioSentinel’s journey into deep space using NASA’s “Eyes on the Solar System” visualization tool, a digital model of the solar system. This real-time simulated view of our solar system runs on real data. The positions of planets, moons and spacecraft – including the BioSentinel – are displayed where they are.
You can adjust the lighting level of the spaceship by clicking the show/hide settings button at the bottom right of the screen. Once opened, you can switch between flood, shadow and natural lighting. In addition, you can use the time controls – at the bottom of the screen – to fast-forward or rewind the simulated view, preview the BioSentinel’s future trajectory, or view a recap of its previous path.
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