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Domains: cell culture non–adherent cells

This Experiment Unit is a device capable of performing automatic cell culture of non-adherent cells (i.e. cells that grow in suspension) in microgravity.

The KEU-Y1 Experiment Unit is a device capable of performing automatic cell culture of non-adherent cells (i.e. cells that grow in suspension) in microgravity. It is equipped with reservoirs for chemicals (culture medium, fixatives) and a culture chamber allowing cell growth in suspension. Moreover, the KEU-B1 allows the filtration of the cell culture in order to separate culture medium from the sample which is then fixed. The KEU-Y1 is equipped with a permeable membrane to extinguish CO2 overpressure, making the KEU-Y1 ideal for fermenting cells. The scientific protocol is led by the KEU-Y1 electronic controller following a predefined timeline. At the end of the experiment the KEU-Y1 Experiment Unit can be stowed at controlled temperatures (freezer). After stowage and re-entry on Earth, cell cultures can be analyzed with molecular biology-based approaches for genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic studies or cytofluorimetry.

  • Fluidic systems: 2
  • Fluidic actuators: 1 (shared between the two fluidic systems)
  • Fluidic actuators type: PISTON (slow motion)
  • Fluidic reservoirs: 2
  • Culture chambers: 1 each fluidic system (2 in total – sample floats in)
  • Gas exchange: YES (membrane – CO2 release)
  • Levels of Containment (LoC): 1
  • Fluidic System Volume: ask for information
  • Automatic control: YES
  • On-Board Electronic Controller: NO
  • Experiment Unit size: ≈ 90x48x18 mm
  • Experiment Unit mass: ≈ 140 grams (fully assembled)
  • Fits into: multiple KEU-Y1 fits into KIC-DLM (2 LoC)
  • Compatible Controller: KAB

So far, the KEU-Y1 Experiment Unit has been used to study Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces bayanus.

Each KEU-Y1 Experiment Unit (EU) is made of a semicrystalline thermoplastic polymer with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties, biologically inert. Cross contamination among the chambers is avoided thanks to proper sealing gaskets. The EU itself provides one level of containment (LoC) that is increased to three by using KIC-DLM containers class. The experiment requires an external controller but it can be made fully automatic depending on available volume within the KIC-DLM. If, so all the actions will be electrically controlled by a predefined timeline and housekeeping data could be recorded during the mission and downloaded at re-entry.

The fluidic concept carries out the experimental protocol which relies basically on three main steps, i.e. yeast activation and growth in liquid medium, yeast filtration, and yeast fixation. On the whole, the actions performed by the fluidic system are achieved by a linear electrical actuator mechanism that drives the piston forward and backward pushing or sucking the fluids (Activator or Fixative) towards the Culture Chamber (CC). Each culture chamber is provided with a filter that makes possible to separate yeast cells by the growth medium. An inner system of channels and valves connects the reservoirs to the CCs so that cells are activated, fixed and the growth medium recovered (see figures below). Short channels along with a permeable membrane also provide the release of CO2.

Qualified for:
Manned Flight Carrier (Soyuz) and Manned Flights – Use on ISS

  • 2009 YING-B1 PI: Ronnie Willaert (Univ. of Bruxelles) – Luk Daenen (Univ. of Leuven)



International Space Station



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