Bacteria in Space

An experiment designed by the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering at the Technion will examine the behavior of anti-bacterial substances in space and their effect on bacteria under conditions of zero gravity.

How does micro-gravity (zero gravity) affect our living world? Technion researchers and their partners in Italy will soon be launching two experiments into outer space to shed light on this fascinating field of inquiry.

The experiments, which examine different effects of micro-gravity, will be launched from French Guinea on a European Space Agency launch. The project is part of a collaboration between the Israeli Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Italian Space Agency, which includes four experiments conducted by the company “Space Pharma.” Each experiment includes one Israeli and one Italian researcher.

The first experiment examines the behavior of anti-microbial molecules and their effect on bacteria and was designed by Prof. Boaz Pokroy of the Technion’s Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering and his partner Prof. Giuseppe Falini of the University of Bologna. The second experiment examines the speed at which blood proteins bind to chemical materials, and was designed by researchers from the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion and Tre University in Rome.

The experiment of Prof. Pokroy and Prof. Falini is called SpaceLysis and will examine the effect of micro-gravity on the kinetics of anti-microbial materials and their action on bacteria. On Earth, the interaction between bacteria and these substances depends on diffusion and convection, whereas in space, there will be zero convection, and so the interaction is expected to change significantly, explains Prof. Pokroy. The researchers, who have already conducted the experiment on Earth, seek to study the effect of microgravity on these interactions through the innovative space experiment.

Prof. Giuseppe Falini from the University of Bologna (right) and Prof. Boaz Pokroy from the Technion