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BIT advances microbiological research on Chinese Space Station
This BIT-led research initiative began with the first batch of experimental equipment launched with the Mengtian experimental module on October 31, 2022 .
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BIT advances microbiological research on Chinese Space Station
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jan 29, 2024

The Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) reports its latest research project in now onboard the Chinese space station in the Mengtian experimental module. Launched aboard the Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on January 17, this project represents a collaboration between BIT and Jiangsu Normal University.

This space microbiology project comprises four space microbial detection chips and two high-throughput space microbial culture chips. These advanced tools were employed in experiments carried out with the assistance of Chinese astronauts, delving into the rapid and precise detection of space microorganisms and their metabolic corrosion mechanisms.

A focal point of this project is the study of the molecular mechanism behind biofilm formation by space microorganisms, a collaborative effort between Zhang Ying and Professor Liu Weijie's team from Jiangsu Normal University. The importance of this research lies in its potential to provide essential theoretical and technical support for microbial risk prevention and control within space stations and long duration spacecraft.

This BIT-led research initiative began with the first batch of experimental equipment launched with the Mengtian experimental module on October 31, 2022. Subsequent experiments included the completion of chip payload in-orbit experiments aboard the Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft on May 10, 2023, and the return of the culture chip payload to the ground laboratory on the Shenzhou-16 manned spacecraft on October 31, 2023. These achievements have laid a solid foundation for ongoing experimental continuity among BIT researchers.

Zhang Ying's research group, backed by the Space Biology and Medical Engineering Team has a rich history in space microbiology research. Their work encompasses the study of the ecology and physiological metabolism of space microorganisms, with a specific focus on microbial community evolution in various environments, including the total assembly test, launch site, and simulated experimental environments during the ground development of the Chinese space station.

This comprehensive analysis has been instrumental in constructing effective ground prevention and control measures, ensuring the microbial environment inside the space station cabin meets specific requirements before launch.

During the in-orbit flight of the space station, this group has not only analyzed the diversity and succession patterns of microbial communities but also proposed targeted microbial contamination prevention and control strategies. Over the past five years, their efforts have culminated in the publication of 14 academic papers in journals and the acquisition of multiple national patents.

Related Links
Beijing Institute of Technology
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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