Biological Imaging in Support of Suborbital Science

PI: Rob Ferl, Anna-Lisa Paul (Co-I), University of Florida - Gainesville

Building on 20 years of plant research in both suborbital and orbital environments, researchers are working to refine a biological imaging system for exploration science. The goal: to enable autonomous, high-resolution image data collection for a variety of biological payloads during transitions in gravity levels. The current hardware, while flight proven, lacks autofocus and modern resolution. Improvements will address these shortcomings and also examine new biological sensors for the imager.

Prior test flights were performed under T0012 and T0053.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA06 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
  • TA08 Science Instruments, Observations and Sensor Systems
Problem Statement

This flight-proven imaging concept and hardware system fills the need for state-of-the-art images that characterize biological responses to changes in gravity levels during spaceflight. The suborbital flights are designed to provide context to similar deep space imaging systems. This experiment will conduct camera comparisons and a flight test of camera power and control based on triggering from capsule flight data. It is expected to enable finalizing of flight design, operations, and documentation.

Technology Maturation

The camera and support hardware for the imaging system is designed to autonomously provide high-resolution fluorescent images of any biological specimen on a Petri plate during all phases of suborbital flight. This would facilitate the collection of morphometric, gene expression, and biochemical responses through fluorescent biosensors. The test flights will enable high-fidelity testing of the camera’s systems to inform development for cislunar applications.

Future Customers

Any biological academic, government or commercial researcher interested in capturing imaging data on behavior of biology or materials in the suborbital realm as it informs, orbital, and beyond LEO environments - especially with respect to g-level transitions.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights19 (Oct 2019)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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