PharmaSat: Drug dose response in microgravity from a free-flying integrated biofluidic/optical culture-and-analysis satellite

Antonio J. Ricco, MacArena Parra, David Niesel, Matthew Piccini, Diana Ly, Michael McGinnis, Andrzej Kudlicki, John W. Hines, Linda Timucin, Chris Beasley, Robert Ricks, Michael McIntyre, Charlie Friedericks, Michael Henschke, Ricky Leung, Millan Diaz-Aguado, Christopher Kitts, Ignacio Mas, Mike Rasay, Elwood AgasidEd Luzzi, Karolyn Ronzano, David Squires, Bruce Yost

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

27 Scopus citations


We designed, built, tested, space-qualified, launched, and collected telemetered data from low Earth orbit from Pharma- Sat, a 5.1-kg free flying "nanosatellite" that supported microbial growth in 48 microfluidic wells, dosed microbes with multiple concentrations of a pharmaceutical agent, and monitored microbial growth and metabolic activity using a dedicated 3-color optical absorbance system at each microwell. The PharmaSat nanosatellite comprised a structure approximately 10 x 10 x 35 cm, including triple-junction solar cells, bidirectional communications, power-generation and energy- storage system, and a sealed payload 1.2-L containment vessel that housed the biological organisms along with the fluidic, optical, thermal, sensor, and electronic subsystems. Growth curves for S. cerevisiae (Brewer's yeast) were obtained for multiple concentrations of the antifungal drug voriconazole in the microgravity conditions of low Earth orbit. Corresponding terrestrial control experiments were conducted for comparison.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX
StatePublished - 2011
EventMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 23 2011Jan 25 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherMicrofluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems IX
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • PharmaSat
  • integrated microsystem
  • microfluidics
  • nanosatellite
  • optical absorbance
  • voriconazole
  • yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'PharmaSat: Drug dose response in microgravity from a free-flying integrated biofluidic/optical culture-and-analysis satellite'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this