|Knie, M; Schoppmann, K; Eck, H; Wolfschoon Ribeiro, B; Laforsch, C: The “Daphnia” Lynx Mark I suborbital flight experiment: Hardware qualification at the Drop Tower Bremen, Microgravity Science and Technology, 28(3), 345-349 (2016), doi:10.1007/s12217-015-9453-x|
|Key words: daphnia; drop tower; experimental hardware; microgravity; suborbital flight|
The Drop Tower Bremen, a ground-based facility enabling research under real microgravity con- ditions, is an excellent platform for testing new types of experimental hardware to ensure full performance when deployed in costly and rare flight opportunities such as suborbital flights. Here we describe the “Daph- nia” experiment which will fly on XCOR Aerospace Lynx Mark I and our experience from the hardware tests with the catapult system at the drop tower. The aim of the “Daphnia” experiment is to obtain data on the biological performance of daphnids and predator- prey interactions in microgravity, which are important for the development of aquatic bioregenerative life sup- port systems (BLSS). The experiment consists of two subunits: The first unit is dedicated to predator-prey interactions, where behavioural analysis should reveal if microgravity interfere with prey (Daphnia) detection or feeding and therefore may interrupt the trophic cas- cade. The functioning of such an artificial food web is indispensable for a long-lasting BLSS suitable for long- duration manned space missions or Earth-based explo- rations to extreme habitats. The second unit is designed to investigate the impact of microgravity on gene ex- pression and the cytoskeleton in Daphnia. Next to data collection, the real microgravity conditions at the drop tower have helped to identify the weak points of the “Daphnia” experimental hardware and lead to further improvement. Hence, the drop tower is ideal for test- ing new experimental hardware which is indispensable before the implementation in suborbital flights. M.