Gilroy Lab Experiment Orbiting Earth
On March 1st the SpaceX Dragon blasted off from Cape Canaveral with the Gilroy Lab's TOAST (Test of Arabidopsis Space Transcriptome) experiment in tow. The Gilroy lab was one of two groups that had been chosen to send experiments to the International Space Statio (ISS) in BRICs, or "Biological Research In Canisters". The program and the experiments are summarized in this article from NASA:
Experiment Canisters Aid in Helping Study Plant Growth in Space
You can also watch Simon Gilroy explain the experiment at the NASA press conference (his part begins at the 2:40 mark in the video)
Nerves were tested when the Dragon capsule's thrusters failed to fire after the launch. Until the thrusters could be fixed, the capsule could not safely dock with the ISS, and if the docking were delayed long enough, the experiment would not have enough time to run. Luckily, the problem was solved and the docking was only delayed a day, with no impact on the experiment.
The Gilroy Lab eagerly awaits the return of its BRIC, which is scheduled to splash down on March 25. The lab should have its samples in hand by April and can then begin the exciting work of analyzing them!
For more information and updates on the TOAST project, please check the Lab's Plants in Microgravity blog.
Simon and Won-Gyu at Kennedy Space Center