We love working with the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) – but sometimes researchers want to use materials, chemicals, or biological agents that NASA deems just a bit too risky for the astronauts for manoeuvre themselves. So that’s why we built BlackBox!
BlackBox is a remotely commanded platform that has research fully integrated on the ground and completely contained from the astronaut crew. All the astronauts have to do is plug the entire locker-sized platform in on-orbit for power and data. BlackBox allows for multiple experiments to occur simultaneously.
The MIT Space Exploration Initiative 30-day Space Station mission involves several nested experiments inside BlackBox. These experiments explore both fundamental and applied research supporting the future of human spaceflight, representing the diversity of the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative portfolio.
Several of these projects directly address research supported by the NASA-guided Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH). Read more about the MIT Space Exploration Initiative’s inaugural BlackBox mission.
Space Terroir: A fermented miso sample that will be biologically characterized and analyzed before and after ISS mission exposure (with a control kept on the ground).
TESSERAE (Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments): An autonomous, self-assembling robotic swarm of tiles, testing new paradigms for in-orbit construction of satellites and future space habitats.
Pigments: Explores the role of protective pigments against the interior Space Station radiation environment and also studying the effect of radiation on certain early-stage development plant life (e.g. seeds).
BioX1: An on-board nanopore genetic sequencer, testing an experiment apparatus for DNA analysis that may become the basis for a future Mars Rover experiment, assisting the Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG) program.