The ESA space experiment BioRock was launched on July 25th, 2019, with SpaceX CRS-18 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Caneveral, Florida, USA.
BioRock will investigate the growth of biofilms and their ability to extract nutrients and economically interesting elements from rocks. The experiment uses centrifuges on the space station to study microbial growth and biofilm formation under microgravity and simulated Mars and Earth gravity conditions. The experiment will contribute to our understanding of how microbes form biofilms, whether they can be used in 'biomining' of economically useful elements on other planetary bodies, as well as yielding new fundamental insights into how microbes grow in space conditions with applications to life support systems etc.
In this space experiment three bacterial species are investigated: Sphingomonas desiccabilis, Bacillus subtilis and Cupriavidus metallidurans.
The experiment is a collaboration between the UK Center of Astrobiology, Edinburgh (scientific coordinator of BioRock), the Belgian Nuclear Research Center, Mol, and the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Germany.
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