Biology in Microgravity module (BIM)

The experiments inside a thermally isolated Late-Access Insert

Hardware for biology and biotechnology experiments.

A number of modules dedicated to biology investigations have been developed for the Texus, Maser and Maxus programmes.

The Biology in Microgravity (BIM) module is a multi-user experiment module for small biology experiments. BIM is equipped with an incubator, providing controlled temperature conditions, with an interface for experiment-specific cassettes (EC’s).

Up to 16 experiment cassettes can be accommodated in static positions (microgravity inflight) with a further 16 experiment cassettes on a centrifuge to provide a 1g in-flight control. The BIM module provides power and commanding to the experiment cassettes for pre-programmed automatic operation during flight.

The experiment cassettes (EC’s), approximately 20 x 40 x 80 mm in size, are developed specifically for each experiment. Typically, the EC houses one to four experiment samples which can automatically be mixed inflight with reagents such as activators or fixative.

Internal structure of the LAI
Internal structure of the LAI

BIM is in principle compatible with very similar cassette systems that have been developed for other ESA biological facilities like CIS (the forerunner of BIM), KUBIK (portable incubator on the ISS) and BIOBOX (automatic incubator on Foton) covering cell biology, microbiology, plant and developmental biology experiments. (Further details of the KUBIK experiment cassettes can be found on the KUBIK webpage {insert link}).

The experiment samples are typically prepared in a laboratory at the launch site and inserted in the BIM module a few hours prior to launch. After landing the incubator insert in the module, containing the EC’s, can be removed from the payload and returned to the launch site within approximately 90 minutes.

Last update: 22 July 2010

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