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ASH U ^ 'T -
AN EDUCATIONAL PUBLICATION OF THE
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

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Biosatenite n
UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE PROCF`' ; S INCREASED The information acquired through the pr:,gram is
expected not only to throw new light on the funda-
NASA's Biosatellite II experiment has added an- mental processes of life but also to contribute to
other dimension to man's understanding of life planning for manned space flights of long duration.
processes. The experiment is part of the Biosatellite Biosatellite II carried frog eggs, microorganisms.
program which is designed to study the effects on plants, and insects on an orbital flight that lasted
living things of such phenomena as weightlessness, about two days. The living cargo was subjected
weightlessness combined with radiation, and re- during the flight to weightlessness alone and to
moval from the diurnal (day-night) cycle on earth. weightlessness combined w i th radiation artificially

Technicians read-Y Biosatellite II for launch.

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applied from a source on the spacecraft. fected by radiation than mature slowly growing cells.
NASA and participating university and industry • Plan' life reacts far more to weightlessness than
scientists studied for several months the impact of animal life.
the flight on the living things. Among the revealing Since living things have much in common, the
new information derived from the studies are the results are contributing to understanding of life
following: processes. To biologists studying such diseases as
• Weightlessness can spur radiation-induced muta- cancer where mutant cells compete with normal
tions and other cell damage. On the other hand, cells, for example, the fact that lowered or absent
weightlessness appeared to slow the growth and gravity can slow down the activity of damaged
metabolism (energy conversion; i.e., conversion of mutant cells may be significant. Much more experi-
food or nutrients to bodily processes) of injured mentation and study will be required, of course,
cells, giving them an opportunity to repair damage before its significance can be ascertained.
due to radiation. Scientists also caution that Biosatellite II experi-
• Earth's gravity controls plant growth to a greater ments were with relatively simple organisms and the
degree than previously realized. findings cannot be transferred directly to man. For
0 Bacteria seem to multiply more readily in space example, forty-five hours of weightless flight for
than on earth. But weightlessness appears to inhibit some of these organisms is the equivalent of years
the relative growth of viruses. to a human being. But the Biosatellite II experiments
t . l ust as on earth, young and rapidly dividing cells and others to follow are adding a new dimension to
in a weightless environment are more severely af- man's knowledge about life.

View of Biosatellite II just before mid -air recovery by United States Air Force plane.

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part of their metabolism to be devoted to repro-
TrMr 7.7 W1
Biosate!lite I, launched December 14, 1966,
1.
duction.
Bacteria are one of the major classes of micro-
could not be brought down as scheduled :i organisms. Another is called protozoa. Biologists
because of retrorocket failure. Efforts to consider bacteria a form of plant life; protozoa,
locate the craft during its anticipated normal animal life.
reentry on February - e There is another group of microbes that has so
unsuccessful. far defied classification — even as a living thing.
This is the virus. All three types rode in Biosatellite
11
I AROR I, 'Y IN SPAi
Two different bacteria, Salmonella and Escheri-
NASA launched Biosatellite II from Cape Kennedy, chia coli, were aboard Biosatellite 11. In many labora-
Florida, on September 7, 1967. About two days tory experiments on earth, these bacteria are
later, ground controllers ordered the satellite to fire infected with a virus and then irradiated. The virus
retrorockets, slowing it so that it fell out of orbit multiplies rapidly, eventually lysing, or bursting,
toward earth. As it parachuted down over the Pacific the one-celled creatures. The bacteria thus became
Ocean near Hawaii, the spacecraft was retrieved in known as lysogenic (rupturing) bacteria.
the air by a United States Air Force plane. The weightless condition of space produced sig-
During 45 hours of weightless flight, part of the nificant differences in effects on the bacteria. The
living cargo aboard Biosatellite II was subjected to viruses per bacterium failed to reproduce as well as
measured doses of gamma radiation from an on- they do on earth. As a result, the number of irradi-
board 85 Strontium package. Other living things ated infected lysogenic bacteria that burst in space
were not exposed to radiation. Thus, information was about 25 percent fewer than earth controls.
could be acquired about the effects of weightless- Scientists cannot yet explain this.
ness alone and the effects of weightlessness and The lysogenic bacteria also tolerated radiation
radiation combined. A control group of organisms better (in addition to reproducing substantially
was subjected to the same conditions as the flying faster) than did similar bacteria on earth. The space-
group, except that it was in laboratories on earth. borne viruses were not as badly damaged by radia
After Biosatellite II was recovered. it was rushed tion as their counterparts within microb— n ground
to Hawaii for quick look studies of the experimental laboratories.
specimens. They were then transferred to the !abor- Another interesting result was that irradiated
atories of the participating scientists for continued bacteria multiplied more rapidly under weightless
observation and extensive study. conditions than non-irradiated bacteria. Irradiated
Plans call for additional Biosatellite flights. In a Salmonella aboard Biosatellite 11 totaled 48 percent
pair of month-long orbital flights, trained monkeys more than those in identical types of chambers on
will be used to learn how prolonged weightlessness the ground. Non-irradiated Salmonella produced 19
may affect body processes in higher life forms. percent more in weightlessness than on the ground.
This NASA Facts presents some highlights of the In neighboring chambers of Biosatellite 11 rode
Biosate!lite II experiments. The step-by-step infor- two types of protozoa. One is the amoeba called
mation about growth of certain specimens was Pelomyxa carolinensis. This little creature is a
obtained by halting, or fixing, their development at favorite subject in classroom laboratories.
planned intervals during flight. This was accom- The jelly-like microorganism was able to maintain
plished by treating the organisms with chemicals its external shape while weightless. Two days of
that arrest growth at certain stages. wei,a htlessness resulted in no amoeba population
explr .on. Actually, they reproduced at about the
POPULATION FYPLOSION same rate as their counterparts on earth.
Bacteria flown on Biosatellite II apparently found However, amoebae did feed somewhat more and
weightlessness ideal for life as they knew it. For divided somewhat less frequently in space. During
every 10,000 NASA sent up. a billion returned. reentry, when the forces on the spacecraft's occu-
Experimenters theorize that without the restraints pants were several times that of earth's gravity,
of gravity, the bacteria found it easier to take in amoebae fed less and divided more frequently than
nutrient and give off waste, thus allowing a greater their earth-bound counterparts.

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The amoeba performs most of the functions of fertilized, their heavy Inds move downward.
many celled animals. It resembles man's white blood Laboratory experiments that have prevented frog
cells most in structure and behavior. eggs from pointing their hea p ends g own have
Another kind of protozoan sent into space was resulted in the hatching of abnormal' dpoles. Some
the spore of the fungus called orange bread mold. of these tadpoles have even had two heads.
The spore is called Neurospora. Tests on the result- Cell division of earth-fe rtilized frog eggs flown in
ant fungi revealed no effects that could be entirely the Biosatellite II experiment was apparently un-
attributed to either weightlessness or weightlessness affected by weightlessness. This confirmed a similar
combined with radiation. finding during the manned Gemini XII flight of
November 11 to 15, 1966. Actually, the Gemini
fRUG EMBRYO GRUVYfH
flight provided about double the weightless hours of
UNAFFECTED BY WEIGHTLESSNESS Biosatellite II.
Cells range in size from the microscopic bacteria An assumption, therefore, is that frog eggs must
and protozoa to easily visible eggs. Once fertilized, be oriented properly where gravity or similar forces
however, egg cells start dividing. are present. The absence of gravity, however, does
Scientists have observed that gravity affects the not significantly affect the normal development of
growth of embryos in frog eggs. Frog eggs have resultant offspring, after the first cell division has
heavy ends and lighter ends. After the frog eggs are taken place.

Ore of six tadpoles
that hatched from eggs
flown aboard Biosatellite II.

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EXPERIMENT CROWNS CENTUR Y
OF PLANT STUDIES Effect of weightlessness
on developing wheat seedlings.
This is not so, however, with plants. The Bio-
satellite II experiment confirmed that plant leaves.
stems, and roots depend upon continuous gravity
for orientation. WithoLt gravity, leaves, stems, and
roots of plants grow in unexpected directions.
While circling earth in Biosatellite Il, the roots of
wheat seedlings curved upward and to the side
rather than in the opposite direction relative to the
stem. The leaves of pepper plants twisted and curled
downward. Generally, the leaves of healthy pepper
plants grow almost horizontally relative to the
earth's surface or to the side relative to the plant's
stem.
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The Biosatellite II experiment thus crowned nearly
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a hundred years of earth experiments on the role I
of gravity in plant growth. The phenomena noted
Ground control-normal
during the weightless flight in Biosatellite II had
been suspected because of clinostat experiments on
earth.
A clinostat rotates growing plants slowly with
their stems horizontal to earth. It simulates the
more obvious effects of weightlessness by keeping
the pull on the plant from being exclusively in one
direction.
The helter skeeter plant growth is attributed to
unbalanced distribution of enzymes and other
growth regulators because of the absence of uni-
directional gravity. Apparently, normal distribution
of growth regulators depends upon signals of a
single force like earth's gravity in roughly the same
way that a pilot flying in fog follows a radar beam
to an airport.
The knowledge gained opens interesting possi- Ground control-clinostat
bilities for artificial cortrol of plant growth. Sci-
entists are considering enzyme medication and
manipulation of the direction and intensity of gravi-
tational-like influences as means toward this end.
Some structural and chemical differences be-
tween the flight plants and those on the ground were
observed. Among them were an increase of sucrose
and decrease of stored starch in the pepper plants
and longer shoots in proportion to roots in the wheat
seedlings.
Studies on the effects of radiation in a weightless
environment were carried out with Tradescantia.
This is a native American wildflower found frequently
along roadsides. It is known to develop pink streaks
on its normally blue petals when exposed to
radiation. Biosatellite II — 45 hours
Its relatively small number of large chromosomes

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(12) makes Tradescantia a good subject for studies

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of genetic injury and mutation due to radiation.
Another consideration is that the Tradescantia gene
that determines flower petal colo is about as sensi-
tive to radiation as genes of mammalian cells.
Weightlessness had no apparent effect on the
flower petal color gene. Nor did the gene show any
reaction to radiation different from which it would
show when similarly irradiated on the ground. How-
ever, other plant cells were more severely damaged
by radiation than identical cells of plants on the
ground.

Effect of weightlessness on the anatomy of wheat seedlings

PARTICLE DISTRIBUTION IN CELLS

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EARTH CONTROL CLINOSTAT

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EARTH CONTROL ERECT TO GRAVITY

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Reaction of Pepper Plant
to Weightlessness.
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Before launch.

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4 hours and 40 minutes of weightlessness.

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12 hours and
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17 hours and
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weightlessness,

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INSECT MUTATIONS DUE TO RADIATION
Effects of radiation SPIIRRFD BY WFIGHTI FSSNFSS
and weightlessness on the
vinegar gnat (Drosophila). Three types of insects flown on Biosatellite 11
were more severely affected by radiation when
welghtiess than if they were under normal gravity.
Insects studied include vinegar gnats (Drosophila
rnelanogaster), flour beetles (Tribolium), and para-
sitic wasps (Habrobracon).
Vinegar gnat larvae were disturbed even by
weightlessness alone. There was abnormal chromo
some transfer in dividing cells. This has not been
seen in gnat larvae on earth. Irradiation under
weightlessness worsened their situation. When the
larvae grew to adulthood, they were weaker and had
shorter life spans than larvae that had stayed on
earth.
Male vinegar gnats suffered more damage than
females. Scientists think that this is linked to the
fact that females have two X chromosomes while
males have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.
Thus, the loss of an X chromosome could affect a

Adult from normal egg (ground)
Effects of weightlessness

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VESTIGIAL WING

MISSING WING

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Adult from egg In Blosatelhte II
Radiation and weightlessness effects

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male more seve sly than a femals. All of the latched embryos In this experiment
In another expenm,^i l t, irradiated flour beetle were produced from unfertilized eggs, These par-
(Triboliurn) pupae flown on Blosatelllte II showed a thenogenically (no male parent) produced organ-
50 percent Increase In radiation-induced wing ab- isms are experimentally advantageous because they
normalities as compared to pupae similarly exposed display all the effects of any genetic damage. Other
on earth. Also, twice as many of the offispring of organisms usually take more than one generation
those sent into space failed to survive as compared to reveal all effects of genetic damage. Because of
to their earthbound counterparts. this attribute, genetic information about Habrobra-
con is the most complete of any organism.
WEIGHTLESSNESS APPEARS Scientists attribute cell recovery to the fact that
TO AID HEALING cell division and metabolism are apparently slowed
OF P,ADIATION DAMA11,F down In a weightless environment. This slowdown
may enable the cell to repair the damage caused by
The eggs of the parasitic wasp (H?brnbracon) radiation.
suffered considerable damage during Irradiation in Another result lent additinnal evidc Ti ,_e to pre
space but partially recovered. In fact, not only did liminary inclj=,uns that weightlessness affects
the eggs recover more rapidly in a weight l ess en- actively dividing cells more than slowly growing
vironment but also the wasps that hatched from the cells. Male Habrobracon sperm cells, which are
eggs showed less genatic damage than wasps produced early and remain in so-called suspended
hatched from simil- ly irradiated eggs in the ground animation, were affected by radiation while in space
laboratory. Weightlessness also seemed to reduce in the same way as similar cells were affected on
the death rate of embryos from irradiated eggs. earth.

and radiation on the flour beetle (Tribolium).

Pre-irradiated pupa Adult from
flown in Biosatellite
B osatell to II irradiated pupa
with split wings
Effects of weightlessness
acct radiation on Habrobracon.

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Biosatell to II.
Pupal lethal mutant

SPAU RAFT AND
LAW VFHICLE DESCRIPTIONS

At launch, the 955-pound Biosatellite II con-
sisted of four major sections. These are the adapter
section, the thrust cone assembly, the forebody.
aid the experiments capsule.
The adapter is a 400-pound 5-foot long tapering
•/ cylinder with a maximum diameter of nearly 5 feet.
It contains equipment for satellite orientation and
for communication with earth. It Is cast adrift in
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space when the other sections are being prepared
Black color body
for return to earth.
The thrust cone assembly, the forebody, and the
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Exploded view showing
principal B osatellite
II parts

Forebody Assembly

Entry Vehicle

Experiments
Capsule Assembly

Thermal Cover

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Thrust Cone Assembly

fapter Section

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experiments capsule are referred to collectively as help in pinpointing its location. A thermal cover over
the entry vehicle. The entry vehicle is also shaped the back end of the experiments capsule Is ejected
like a cylinder with a maximum dia-neter of 43/4 at an altitude of about 80,000 feet activating para-
feet and an over-all length of about 4 feet. It chute deployment.
weighs 515 pounds. The launch of B!osatelhte II marked the 48th
The thrust cone assembly provides the retro- success in 51 attempts for NASA's Delta rocket
rocket and other equipment needed to slow the vehicle. The capabilities of this particular vehicle
vehicle down for return from orbit. The thrust cone can be augmented by three small solid rockets that
assembly is then separated from the rest of the are strapped to its first stage. With the solid rockets,
entry vehicle. the vehicle is referred to as a Thrust-Augmented
During entry into the atmosphere, the forebody Delta (TAD).
functions as a heat shield to enable the experiments TAD has a total lift-off thrust of 328.000 pounds.
capsule that it encloses to survive the blistering It is 92 feet high including the shroud or nose cone
heat. The experiments capsule is a sealed self- that protects Its payload.
contained laboratory providing all requirements for TAD can be employed with a single or two upper
carrying out experiments. The capsule also carries stages. When used with a single upper stage, as in
the parachute system for slowing down the entry the Biosatellite II experiment, it can place a 1,450-
vehicle in the atmosphere and a radio beacon to pound spacecraft into orbit.

View of interior of Blosatellite II experiments capsule.

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