Along with supplies and equipment for the Expedition 53 crew members aboard the ISS, the Cygnus cargo also contains the E. coli anti-microbial satellite (EcAMSat).
The EcAMSat experiment will study the effect of microgravity on bacterial antibiotic resistance and its genetic basis. The aim of experiment is to determine the lowest concentration of antibiotic that inhibits bacterial growth.
Two strains of E. coli, one with a resistance gene and the other without, will be exposed to different concentrations of antibiotics, and then the viability of each group will be examined.
The results of EcAMSat may be helpful for prescribing the correct dose of antibiotics for future space travellers, and may help with designing new, more effective antibiotics for use on Earth too.
EcAMSat is funded by the Space Biology Project at the NASA Ames Research Center and is in partnership with the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr AC Matin, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford, is the Principal Investigator.
Other scientific experiments are being delivered by the Cygnus spacecraft too, including:
- the Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antennafor testing and improving long distance communication in space
- the Biological Nitrogen Fixation experiment will test how microgravity affects the nitrogen fixation process of the legume microclover
- Tenebrio Molitor will investigate the effects of microgravity on the life cycle of the mealworm, Tenebrio molitor.
Cygnus was successfully grappled yesterday morning, and will remain attached to the ISS for approximately three weeks.
Poster image: E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat), courtesy of NASA.