Roger Harrington, one of our @NASA_ARES Curation staff, is seen here as he works on polishing a sample in our Thin Section Lab. To the left of Roger is a picture of Antarctic meteorite sample LAR 12011 and a petrographic thin section of this meteorite taken under polarized light. So what is a thin section? A thin section is an extremely thin slice or sliver of a rock mounted onto a glass slide with epoxy. They are prepared in order to help scientists investigate the textures and mineralogy of the rock using tools such as a polarizing petrographic microscope, scanning electron microscope, or an electron microprobe. This work is a part of petrology and helps to reveal the origin and evolution of the parent rock. A thin section sample is approximately 30 micrometers (0.03 mm) thick – which is a little less than half the thickness of a human hair! Petrographic thin section samples are available for check out by college and university professors. For more information go to: http://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/Education/thinsections.cfm#
Principal investigator and @NASA_ARES scientist Aaron Burton has been working with team members from NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Inc. on the Biomolecule Sequencer (MinION) that is scheduled to head to the International Space Station this summer. Sequencing is a powerful molecular biology technique that helps us to understand the molecular basis of biological activity at the level of DNA, RNA, and proteins, and with the analysis of sequence data we can identify organisms, and track how they respond to changes in their environment. The objectives of the Biomolecule Sequencer are to provide proof-of-concept for the functionality and crew operability of a DNA sequencer in the space environment. Some of the capabilities that would be provided by incorporating sequencing into space exploration are in-flight microbial identification for crew and vehicle health assessments, monitoring changes at the DNA and RNA level in astronauts and microbes, and analyzing life based on DNA or DNA-like molecules on other worlds, if present. As mentioned in the “State of NASA” address by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in May, astronaut Kate Rubins will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) and plans to become the first person to perform DNA sequencing in space after she arrives at the ISS.
To read more about the Biomolecule Sequencer go to: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2181.html#overview
Watch a video interview with Dr. Aaron Burton at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g701qIxrMlU
In his “State of NASA” address, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden spoke about NASA’s scientific and technological achievements as well as cutting-edge future. He highlighted key work and advancements by the agency during the last few years and discussed many of the future goals NASA continues to work toward. This includes the exploration of Mars and elsewhere in our solar system and beyond, aeronautics research, development of technology to enable humans to explore deep space, and research aboard the International Space Station for the benefit of life on Earth and for astronauts on long duration space missions.
Staff @NASA_ARES are involved in many aspects of the work discussed – but one upcoming highlight worth mentioning is the DNA sequencing in space experiment led by @NASA_ARES Principal Investigator Aaron Burton and Deputy Project Manager/Project Engineer Kristen John (inset image). As mentioned by Administrator Bolden, in May, astronaut Kate Rubins will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) and plans to become the first person to perform DNA sequencing in space after she arrives at the ISS.
View a video of the “State of NASA” address at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej2odhB57ng.