A NASA blog has described Astronaut Peggy Whitson’s first successful sequencing of a microorganism in space, as part of the Genes in Space 3 programme.
While Hurricane Harvey was profoundly affecting the people, businesses and homes of Texas, including the NASA Johnson Space Center, Sarah Wallace was supporting AstroPeggy from her home, linked to the ISS with her cellphone. Onboard, the miniPCR was used to prepare the sample and the Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencer was used to sequence microorganisms. NASA scientist Sarah Wallace said: “Right away, we saw one microorganism pop up, and then a second one, and they were things that we find all the time on the space station…”. The samples were subsequently checked and verified on earth, with identical results.