Description of International Caenorhabditis elegans Experiment first flight (ICE-FIRST)

N. J. Szewczyk, J. Tillman, C. A. Conley, L. Granger, L. Segalat, A. Higashitani, S. Honda, Y. Honda, H. Kagawa, R. Adachi, A. Higashibata, N. Fujimoto, K. Kuriyama, N. Ishioka, K. Fukui, D. Baillie, A. Rose, G. Gasset, B. Eche, D. ChaputM. Viso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Traveling, living and working in space is now a reality. The number of people and length of time in space is increasing. With new horizons for exploration it becomes more important to fully understand and provide countermeasures to the effects of the space environment on the human body. In addition, space provides a unique laboratory to study how life and physiologic functions adapt from the cellular level to that of the entire organism. Caenorhabditis elegans is a genetic model organism used to study physiology on Earth. Here we provide a description of the rationale, design, methods, and space culture validation of the ICE-FIRST payload, which engaged C. elegans researchers from four nations. Here we also show C. elegans growth and development proceeds essentially normally in a chemically defined liquid medium on board the International Space Station (10.9 day round trip). By setting flight constraints first and bringing together established C. elegans researchers second, we were able to use minimal stowage space to successfully return a total of 53 independent samples, each containing more than a hundred individual animals, to investigators within one year of experiment concept. We believe that in the future, bringing together individuals with knowledge of flight experiment operations, flight hardware, space biology, and genetic model organisms should yield similarly successful payloads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1072-1079
Number of pages8
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sept 15


  • Astrobiology
  • Axenic culture
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Development
  • Spaceflight


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