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Miniature laboratory, the size of a tissue box kick-starts experiments in outer space!

579052-space2New Delhi: The space is hiding numerous secrets that are waiting to be unfolded. Mysteries that if and when unraveled, would revolutionize our knowledge about the evolution of the entire solar system, as well as the universe. Multifarious experiments, probes and investigations are currently underway that are helping scientists unearth the well-kept secrets of the outer world. One such experiment is being carried out by a Swiss-Israeli company by the name of SpacePharma, who has sent a tiny satellite with a laboratory shrunk to the size of a tissue box inside it. The miniature scientific laboratory has now begun carrying out experiments with the aim to help scientists carry out experiments that take gravity out of the equation. Launched into space in the month of February this year, the lab’s first experiments have been completed successfully, the company announced on Thursday. In space, with hardly any interference from earth’s gravity, cells and molecules behave differently, helping researchers make discoveries in fields from medicine to agriculture. Nestle turned to zero gravity – or what scientists refer to as microgravity – to perfect the foam in its chocolate mousse and coffee, while drugmakers like Eli Lilly have used it to improve drug designs. Usually experiments are sent up to the International Space Station and carried out with the help of astronauts, or they are conducted on parabolic airplane flights that enjoy short bursts of weightlessness. SpacePharma says its miniature lab is a new way for researchers to work in microgravity for extended periods. “Everything can be done remotely while the system is in outer space,” said founder Yossi Yamin. “We upload the link with the command files to the lab and the experiment takes place.” Clients then receive data and images directly from the experiments, which are carried out on custom-built glass chips and can be run multiple times to test different reactions. The satellite currently in space holds four experiments, the first being done for a German research institute. A second launch, also with four experiments, is scheduled for August and includes research for a top tier pharmaceutical company, Yamin said. By next year he hopes to begin sending up satellites that each hold some 160 experiments.


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