Penn state biomodule: A versatile fluid mixing device for cell and tissue microgravity research applications

W. W. Wilfinger, C. S. Baker, E. L. Kunze, A. T. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Increasing numbers of scientists are expressing interest in microgravity research as a result of the accumulating data relating to gravity-dependent biological responses. Investigators new to this area of research require hardware that can be easily adapted to a variety of experimental designs and working environments. The Center for Cell Research, with NASA sponsorship, has developed flight hardware and specialized analytical methodology to addresses these concerns. The Penn State Biomodule (PSB) is a patented, computer-controlled fluid mixing device that has flown on sounding rocket and space shuttle missions. A typical PSB shuttle pay load contains eight Biomodules with a total of 64 samples, a sealed Containment Vessel and a NASA Refrigeration / Incubation Module (RIM). Each Biomodule contains eight silastic "T" tubes that are partitioned into three fluid filled compartments. The fluids can be mixed at any user-specified time. Each gas permeable silicone "T" tube accommodates 1 ml of fluid (0.7 ml sample chamber and two 0.15 ml side chambers). The fluids within the side chambers are separated from the sample chamber by a moveable pinch clamp (yolk bar). The pinch clamps are opened by the computer-controlled actuation of a solenoid that allows pressurized fluid to be transferred from the side chamber to the sample chamber. Multiple investigators and complex experimental designs can be easily accommodated with the hardware. During flight, the Biomodules are sealed in a vessel that provides two levels of containment (liquids and gas) and a stable, investigator-controlled, experimental environment that includes regulated temperature, internal pressure, humidity and gas composition. To further maximize data collection, a prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell microencapsulation methodology was developed to streamline launch site sample preparation and accelerate postflight analysis through the use of Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). The Biomodule flight hardware and analytical cell encapsulation methodology are ideally suited for temporal, qualitative or quantitative life science investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994
EventAIAA Space Programs and Technologies Conference and Exhibit, 1994 - Huntsville, United States
Duration: Sep 27 1994Sep 29 1994


OtherAIAA Space Programs and Technologies Conference and Exhibit, 1994
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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