PharmaSat is the first satellite dedicated to pharmacology research.
The first satellite dedicated to pharmacology research will be launched into orbit on 5 May, 2009.
Named PharmaSat, the satellite is only the size of a loaf of a bread, weighing about 10 pounds. You can follow Pharmasat developments on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PharmaSat
PharmaSat is part of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA’s small satellite programme. PharmaSat will be carried by the Minotaur 1 rocket and launched into a low earth orbit at approximately 285 miles above the Earth.
PharmaSat’s primary goal is to help scientists better understand how effectively drugs work in space by studying how yeast responds to an antifungal treatment.
PharmaSat will also monitor the levels of pressure, temperature and acceleration the yeast and the satellite experience while circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour.
PharmaSat will carry a controlled environment micro-laboratory packed with sensors and optical systems that can detect the growth, density and health of yeast cells and transmit that data to scientists for analysis on Earth.
“PharmaSat is an important experiment that will yield new information about the susceptibility of microbes to antibiotics in the space environment,” said David Niesel, PharmaSat’s co-investigator from the University of Texas Medical Branch Department of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology in Galveston. “It also will prove that biological experiments can be conducted on sophisticated autonomous nanosatellites.”
Once PharmaSat reaches its orbit it will activate and begin transmitting radio signals to two ground control stations. The primary ground station at SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., will transmit mission data from the satellite to the spacecraft operators in the mission control center at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
A secondary station is located at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif. When NASA spaceflight engineers make contact with PharmaSat, the satellite will receive a command to initiate its experiment, which will last 96 hours.
Then, PharmaSat will relay data in near real-time up to six months, to mission managers, engineers and project scientists for further analysis.