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Protein crystals grown in Kibo are returned to the ground alongside Astronaut Takuya Onishi (completion of the shortest-term protein growth experiment ever conducted)

Last Updated: December 28, 2016
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Taking a bag for protein sample delivery out of the Soyuz spacecraft (47S) (Credit:JAXA)

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Soyuz Decent Module landed on Earth carrying Onishi and the samples (Credit:JAXA/NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Samples of the protein crystals launched aboard the Soyuz spacecraft (48S) on October 21 for the JAXA PCG experiment have completed growth in space, and were returned to Earth alongside Astronaut Takuya Onishi on October 30. The samples were later handed over to each researcher for analysis.


Handover of samples from Russian staff to Japanese staff (Credit: JAXA)

The set of samples of this growth experiment was initially scheduled for launch in mid-September aboard the Soyuz Spacecraft and to return by the end of October; however, the launch was postponed for technical reasons of the Soyuz spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

As there was no chance for another launch opportunity, JAXA experts at the launch site and in Japan focused on the retention of samples and prepared additional protein samples in coordination with researchers in a short time. As a result, the samples are ready for the next launch opportunity that was set for one month later.

Given their full grasp of the candidate proteins, JAXA experts flexibly chose suitable samples for a short-term experiment to optimize the limited opportunity of ten days.

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Onishi taking samples from the Protein Crystallization Research Facility (PCRF) (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

Onishi making a final check of the samples stored in a shipping bag (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

Protein Crystal Growth in the International Space Station

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