Mission Status Report: NASA Starts Experiment on Orbiting GeneSat-1 Satellite


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MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - Scientists today started the biology experiment aboard NASA's GeneSat-1 satellite, which is orbiting Earth.

At 6:26 a.m. PST, Dec. 18, 2006, the GeneSat-1 status report noted that, "All systems are functioning normally, and we have full two-way radio control. It has been verified that we are collecting experiment data."

Earlier, at 5:42 a.m. PST, Dec. 18, 2006, another status report from GeneSat scientists said, "The GeneSat-1 biology experiment 'start command' was issued about 4 a.m. PST (2nd pass of the night / morning). Housekeeping data from third pass (current pass 5:30 a.m. PST) indicate that payload data is being generated, thus in operation per command. Biology experiment should begin in about 20 minutes (after heaters warm . . . to operating temperature, and GeneSat-1 emerges from solar eclipse). We should have good indication of initial experiment data after the 7 a.m. PST pass (4th of night.)"

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory.

"During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected," said John Hines, the GeneSat project manager at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. GeneSat-1's onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity.

GeneSat-1 was designed and built at NASA Ames Research Center, and the mission is being managed from the center. The satellite was launched Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The NASA satellite was a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket that also delivered the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

Plans call for the GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames to receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside. The biological test is to last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload's systems for four months to a year.

The Small Spacecraft Office at NASA's Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things.

For more information about GeneSat-1, please visit:

http://tia.arc.nasa.gov/genesat1/

Technical readouts from the GeneSat-1 mission can be seen on the GeneSat-1 dashboard on the Internet:

http://genesat1.engr.scu.edu/dashboard/index.htm

Publication-size images are available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/multimedia/images/2006/genebox.html

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