The aim of the project, combining expert knowledge from many different fields of science, was the implementation of a CubeSat bio-nanosatellite to study the impact of microgravity on the properties of living biological samples and to determine their life potential in a metrological way.

The team from the Wrocław University of Technology was the leader of the work package for the development of a lab-payload (satellite payload) containing miniaturized laboratories (the so-called Lab-chip). These laboratories were made using the techniques of analytical microsystems and 3D printing. They provide proper temperature, lighting, medium flow and optical detection in order to parametrically assess the development of the chosen biological objects, such as fungi, oncological cells, lymphocytes or plant seeds.

The detailed scope of work concerned:

• development of a family of glass lab-chips for long-term cultures of cancer cells, as well as for testing the effectiveness of new cancer drugs in microgravity conditions. Innovative constructions of lab-chips for the cultivation of fungi and lymphocytes have been proposed. The use of 3D printing technology made it possible to make a special micropot that allows to measure the quality of plant growth.
• systems were made to enable proper dosing of the necessary nutrients for individual cultures. Proper storage of substances to prevent freezing and precise dosing were taken care of.
• an optical video detection system with automatic image focus control was implemented. This system enabled the observation of objects with sizes >8 µm. Software for frame-by-frame image analysis was developed, which enables parameterization and evaluation of conducted cultures.
• a microgravity simulator (random positioning machine, RPM) was developed for the specific requirements of the project. The device is characterized by a compact design adapted to a 2U load (corresponding to the size of a lab-payload). The device has all the required electrical feedthroughs for powering and communication with electronic components, i.e. conducting a full experiment in simulated microgravity.

In January 2022, the bio-nanosatellite was launched to LEO. The success of the mission was the confirmation of the correct operation of all components of the lab-payload.

The project entitled: “Bio-nanosatellite using miniaturized lab-on-chip instruments and the methodology of conducting bio-medical research using it in microgravity conditions” (POIR.04.01.01-0010/19) was awarded under the program Joint Venture with the Voivodeship Lower Silesian zone of biomedical technologies, included in the sub-measure “Strategic research programs for the economy” is a response to the need to carry out biological research in space.