CORDIS - EU research results

Autonomous Living Cell analYsis ON-chip for Evaluation of space Environment Effects: low-power integrated lab-on-chip for the assessment of radiation damage on living systems in nanosatellite missions

Project description

Novel solution for studying model biological systems in space

Long-term missions in space are inefficient and dangerous for humans due to the risks of high radiation exposure. Unfortunately, solutions have yet to be found. One reason for this is that it’s also difficult to carry out the necessary research. The EU-funded ALCYONE project aims to change this by developing an innovative analytical platform. In conjunction with new technologies, it will allow for research and analysis in situ of space environment effects on model biological systems and further contribute to researching novel shielding solutions. The project will design a lab-on-chip with thin-film sensors and actuators that will use bioluminescence to study cell culture and radiation effects on it during space missions.


The project aims at the design and realization of a new analytical platform implementing a series of innovative technologies able to provide a highly-integrated solution for the analysis in-situ of the effects of the space environment on model biological systems and for the evaluation of shielding technologies combined with radioprotective agents. The main objective of the project will be achieved through the development of a lab-on-chip device with integrated thin-film sensors and actuators that will implement an extremely compact cell-incubator capable to sample the status of the cell culture during a space mission using real-time monitoring techniques based on bioluminescence. Genetically modified microorganisms will be designed in order to monitor specific stress responses based on a luciferase-based reporter system. An electronic system will be integrated in the platform for the characterization of the radiation environment allowing to evaluate the correlation between observed biological effects and radiation exposure.
The main features of the proposed technology include low power consumption, extreme compactness, high data efficiency and full automation making it suitable for cubesat missions. In particular, a complete cubesat payload will be designed to address and solve any integration issue and to provide a test bench for a preliminary set of experiments to be carried out on ground facilities simulating the deep space environment. The proposed system will therefore represent a key element to pave the route toward deep space human mission as it offers the possibility to test the effects of long term exposure to the space environment on model biological systems using simple platforms as cubesats. This opens new scenarios where minor effort
will be required to plan multiple low-cost missions for improving the risk modeling and for testing new countermeasures in a continuous-improvement scheme.


Net EU contribution
€ 280 000,00
Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 280 000,00

Participants (5)