Samantha working on TripeLux
Science & Exploration

42 is the answer

15/03/2017 9538 views 135 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Futura

Forty-two is the answer, but what is the question? Scientists from the University of Zurich wanted to probe how immune cells adapt to weightlessness so they sent an experiment to the International Space Station with ESA.

Triplelux tubes in space
Triplelux tubes in space

All life on Earth has evolved under gravity but most fare well in space, including astronauts. During her mission on the Space Station in 2015, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti thawed frozen immune cells from mammals and placed them in ESA’s Biolab centrifuge, which generates artificial gravity.

The cells were spun to recreate different levels of gravity, from zero to the level we feel on Earth, allowing researchers to compare samples and exclude other factors in the results.

Triplelux hardware
Triplelux hardware

“Although the immune cells went into disarray in weightlessness, they reacted ultra-rapidly and came to a full recovery inside 42 seconds,” reports Oliver Ullrich, professor at the University of Zurich.

Like any good science experiment, the answer begs even more questions, such as how mammalian cells with no evolutionary experience of weightlessness are able to adapt so quickly to it. Whatever the answer may be, the outlook is positive for long-duration human spaceflight.  

“There’s hope that our cells are able to cope much better with zero gravity than we previously thought,” Prof Ullrich concludes.

The results have been published by Nature and are available under an open access licence here: http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-00119-6

Columbus laboratory
Columbus laboratory

Related Articles

Samantha back on Earth
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti back on Earth

11/06/2015 34730 views 165 likes
Read
Samantha, Terry and Anton
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti returning home

08/06/2015 13905 views 79 likes
Read
Moving Leonardo
Science & Exploration

Space Station remodelling

28/05/2015 11544 views 110 likes
Read
Samantha
Science & Exploration

Samantha’s longer stay on Space Station

12/05/2015 21791 views 126 likes
Read
Dragon capture
Science & Exploration

Second Dragon, fruit flies and fresh coffee for Samantha

22/04/2015 7287 views 80 likes
Read
Mission X students
Agency

Mission X comes to a close with a call from space

25/03/2015 2463 views 24 likes
Read
Samantha working on Airway Monitoring
Science & Exploration

Testing astronauts’ lungs in Space Station airlock

09/03/2015 9614 views 82 likes
Read
Dragon approaches Station
Science & Exploration

Fresh supplies and experiments for Samantha

13/01/2015 8889 views 82 likes
Read
Soyuz TMA-15M approaches Station
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti arrives at Space Stati…

24/11/2014 23449 views 97 likes
Read
Samantha in Soyuz
Science & Exploration

Samantha set for Space Station

21/11/2014 24459 views 81 likes
Read
POP3D printer
Enabling & Support

Europe’s 3D printer set for Space Station

13/11/2014 49442 views 173 likes
Read
Samantha spacewalk training
Science & Exploration

Samantha’s mission has a name: Futura

09/12/2013 6383 views 29 likes
Read
Entraînement
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti set for Space Station …

03/07/2012 4630 views 3 likes
Read
Entraînement
Science & Exploration

Samantha Cristoforetti

273377 views 853 likes
Read
Soyuz TMA-15M, Futura mission patch, 2014
Science & Exploration

Samantha’s Futura logo

22/01/2014 7741 views 59 likes
Read

Related Links