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Nematode Muscles experiment was performed on Kibo

Last Updated: May 22, 2015

JAXA's life science experiment "Alterations of C. elegans muscle fibers by microgravity* (Nematode Muscles)" was performed on the Japanese Experiment Module, "Kibo."

*Principal Investigator: Atsushi Higashitani, Tohoku University

Nematode Muscles experiment cultures nematode worms (C. elegans) on Kibo and brings them back on Earth to observe them with a microscope to clarify how and why the conditions of muscle fibers, nucleus and mitochondria change in microgravity. The nematode worms used for this experiment include wild and mutated worms, as well as worms with green and red fluorescent proteins (GFP and RFP).

The result of this experiment is expected to contribute to the research for locomotive syndrome (increase of a risk of needing nursing care due to the decline of the function of organs such as bones, muscles and joints). Because this experiment involves with prolonged bed rest and longevity induced by calorie restriction, it may also contribute not only to the study of space environment, but to the issues on the ground such as aging society.

  • Launch: On April 15, 2015, the syringes containing nematode worms and the culture bags were launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, U.S. aboard the SpaceX CRS-6 and delivered to Kibo.
  • Start of the experiment: On April 19, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly injected nematode worms into the culture bags then set the bags into the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF).
  • Chemical fixation: On April 23, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti chemically fixed the samples and then inserted into Minus Eighty degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) for return and analysis on Earth.

Syringes containing nematode worms and the data loggers for temperature recording (Photo taken on the ground)

*All times are Japan Standard Time (JST)

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