16. March 2020


Kayser-Threde GmbH (now OHB)
esa Aquahab

The "AQUACELLS" experiment


The aim of "AQUACELLS" is to clarify how long Euglena gracilis shows a "normal" behaviour under weightlessness; if the reproduction rate changes, if the swimming behaviour changes, the lighting unit is sufficient to keep the cells alive.

The experiment also serves as a preliminary test for a "life support system" in manned space flight. In light, the cells produce oxygen and fix CO2.

Experiment setup

Experiment Box (our contribution):

AQUACELLSThe cells are housed in a 400 ml "aquarium", which is illuminated by five light banks of ten LEDs each. The light banks are always switched on alternately for one minute to prevent E. gracilis from attaching itself to the illuminated pane. A small peristaltic pump is attached to the cell tank and pumps the cells into the observation chamber.

The observation chamber is connected to the tank in a closed circuit. A small microscope and a digital camera are attached to the observation chamber. An IR diode is used for illumination. The radiation of this diode is not registered by the cells and therefore no disturbed swimming movement occurs. The control electronics, which starts the different programs when PHOTON-Power (power supply from satellite) is switched on, is also located here.

Registrator Box:

This is where the video recorder is stored, which takes the pictures from the digital camera to be able to evaluate them after landing. The video recorder is a flight recorder ("Black Box") of an F-16, from here the whole experiment is also supplied with power. As long as there is no power from the satellite, everything runs on the batteries inside.