News & Awards

Dr. Michael Roberts evaluates samples from BRIC-SnNRGE

CSS to Conduct Research on Space Station

December 3, 2012

Space Florida, Florida's spaceport authority and aerospace economic development organization, and NanoRacks, LLC, have announced CSS as a winner in the Space Florida 2012 International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition. A team of 15 independent judges evaluated the proposals based on defined value in the commercial marketplace, potential for future benefits in space travel, and professional qualifications of the applicants. As one of eight winning proposals from the international competition, CSS will receive research payload transportation to the ISS via an upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch is currently slated for December 2013.

Through the Space Florida award, CSS researcher Dr. Michael Roberts along with Dr. Gary Stutte of the University of Limerick, Ireland will perform the Symbiotic Nodulation in a Reduced Gravity Environment (SyNRGE)-2 experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). SyNRGE-2 is a follow-on experiment to the landmark BRIC-SyNRGE study aboard the US Space Shuttle during its final flight (STS-135) in July 2011.

SyNRGE-2 is expected to be aboard the ISS starting in December 2013

The SyNRGE-2 study will examine a beneficial relationship (symbiosis) between plants and bacteria that enables plants to thrive in nutrient poor environments on Earth without need for fertilizers to increase soil nitrogen. This symbiosis between bacteria and some plants, such as legumes, accounts for approximately 20% of global biological nitrogen fixed annually. Legumes including soybeans, peas, and beans are a major food source for humans, and other legumes like alfalfa, clover, and vetch are important foods for livestock. Specifically, the SyNRGE-2 experiment will investigate microgravity effects associated with microbe-plant interactions and cell-cell communication using a legume-bacteria model system. This study in microgravity represents a potential critical contribution to our understanding of world food production.