Research led by Department of Aerospace Engineering assistant professor Azadeh Sheidaei has taken off – literally – into space with the NASA International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory.
Sheidaei was selected as one of a handful of principal investigators from around the nation to oversee various projects involving rodents in microgravity on board the SpaceX 18th commercial resupply services mission contracted by NASA. It’s dubbed the Rodent Research Reference Mission, and it helps scientists advance data to accelerate medical breakthroughs here on Earth for biomedicine and improvements in patient care.
Sheidaei’s project is tied to the study of bone loss degeneration in humans and is titled “Computational Microstructure-Inspired and Data-driven Model for Bone Degradation to Study the Progression of Osteoporosis.” It’s one of ten projects picked to take part in the mission.
The recently-launched mission included a payload of 40 female mice sent to the microgravity environment of the orbiting platform to evaluate their adaptation off Earth. Twenty mice will be returned alive to Earth at the completion of the stay on station (approximately 30 days), while the remaining 20 will remain on the orbiting laboratory for additional exposure to microgravity.
This Rodent Research Reference Mission will allow selected researchers to further analyze biological specimens toward better disease modeling or potentially accelerated development of therapeutics for terrestrial use. Learn more about it here.
The SpaceX launch featured one of the enterprises’ Dragon spacecraft, which was lifted into orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket. It carried a total of 2.5 metric tons of supplies to the orbiting ISS laboratory.