Life Science Research Sample Transfer Technology for On Orbit Analysis
With retirement of the space shuttle program, microgravity researchers can no longer count on bringing experiment samples back to earth for post-flight analysis. Locker-sized processing facilities, which were typically transported up to and down from the International Space Station during the shuttle era, quite simply consume too much volume, mass, and power to be accommodated as part of both the upmass and downmass on current space transportation vehicles. As a result, more analysis must be accomplished on ISS, which makes on-orbit analytical tools critical to the continued success of microgravity research. The Analytical Cassette transfer Tool (ACT) is a low-cost, disposable device that efficiently transfers experiment samples in a safe and contained manner from unique experiment specific spaceflight hardware to on-orbit analytical tools that enable real-time analysis in microgravity. ACT interfaces with several flight qualified processing payloads to extract experiment samples via a needle-less septum and then allows transfer of those samples into a number of different on-orbit analytical devices, including such instrumentation as the Light Microscopy Module, the Microfluidic Flow Cytometer, a Spectrophotometer, and/or a Mass Spectrometer. Applications in life and environmental sciences include sampling liquid cultures/suspensions or sampling spacecraft water for quality evaluation. ACT functions within or outside of on-orbit gloveboxes to safely transfer any liquid material from one container fitted with the ACT mating receptacle to another container fitted with a receptacle. Its safe, simple, effective, and with its economical advantage, ACT is destined to become the new standard fluid transfer device for the ISS and future space research venues. For the Phase II project, Techshot will develop a flight version of the ACT and subject it to the major spaceflight integration tests.
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