A View from Brittany Sauser

Nanosatellite Carries Drugs into Space

A small satellite launches tonight to test antifungal drugs in orbit.

  • May 5, 2009

If you’re on the East Coast, you might be lucky enough to see a United States Air Force rocket sail through the air tonight, between 8:00 and 10:00 P.M. EDT, carrying a tiny satellite into space. Weighing in at a meager 10 pounds, the “nanosatellite,” called PharmSat, was developed by NASA to study how yeast responds to antifungal drugs while in orbit.

Credit: NASA

Past studies have shown that microorganisms can grow more virulent in space, and another nanosatellite mission, GeneSat, launched in 2006 to test how E. coli bacteria behave in space. The goal of such research is to better understand the biological effects of space. (GeneSat was an $8 million project, and its design is the basis for PharmSat.)

The new nanosatellite contains a sensor-studded laboratory that will detect the growth, density, and health of yeast cells receiving three different doses of the antifungal drug over the course of 96 hours. Scientists on the ground will initiate the experiment one hour after liftoff, and data will be sent back to Earth in near real time for up to six months, assuming that no technical glitches or failures occur.

Good luck, PharmSat!

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.