Saturday, May 31, 2014

CARA – it’s a wrap.

Yesterday we traveled to KSC to retrieve the CARA samples that were harvested to on orbit, along with their comparable ground controls. The plants were harvested by Steve Swanson to KSC Fixation Tubes (KFTs) filled with “RNALater” – a solution that preserves the plants and genetic material in the state they were in on orbit for our later study on Earth.
Steve Swanson harvests plants on orbit to Kennedy Space Center Fixation Tubes - KFTs 
 Thursday one of the Payload Integration Specialists at KSC worked with us to unload the KFTs, and we brought the precious cargo home.  Thus ends the orbital portion of the CARA experiment!
One of 10 KFTs containing plants harvested on orbit, as returned to us at KSC
What’s next for CARA? Several months of laboratory analyses – imagine analyses from LMM and standard macro-photography, and the biochemical analyses of gene expression in the returned samples.

What’s next for us in the spaceflight realm? In two weeks we start in on structured preparation for our next flight experiment: TAGES-ISA. The Science Verification Test (SVT) for TAGES-ISA begins June 11th at KSC. The upcoming SVT will run a short version of our proposed flight experiment within the ISS Environmental Simulator (the ISSES chamber) and flight-comparable hardware (the VEGGIE unit). This test will – you guessed it – verify that the science of our proposed experiment is a good match for the hardware and likely environment it will see on the ISS.  
Later in the year we may be sending our biology to the suborbital realm as well – Stay tuned!

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