Sugar-Growing Bacteria Go into Orbit

Bacteria capable of producing sugars, are being investigated by NASA as a potential energy source in space. The genetically modified bacteria, dubbed as PowerCell, derived from a type of plankton called Anabaena uses photosynthesis to make sugars from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight.To enable observation of PowerCell’s capability, the researcher team will launch the bacteria along with Bacillus subtilis that functions as the indicator of the presence of sugar produced by PowerCell. Bacillus subtilis has the capability to turn sugar into a red pigment. If the PowerCell are behaving as its expected, red colour will occur. The colour change will be detected by an on-board sensor which is linked to the NASA’s research center. The researchers will then be able to observe if the bacteria can survive the space launch and cosmic radiation. They will also test the capability of sugar producing bacteria under lunar and zero gravity to see if the modified bacteria could function on the moon or a space station. Some bacteria could also be engineered to make tools and other 3D objects. NASA’s researchers has modified E. coli bacteria to be able to create plastic which can fold itself into any desirable 3D shapes when heated. It will help astronauts on long mission to make tools on the go.