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!

Want to go ad free? No ad blockers needed.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

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 Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home 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.

/
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.