Solutions: Macromolecular Crystal Growth
Techshot offers two relevant categories of hardware: locker-sized environmental processing facilities and sample processing units also known as cassettes.
ADvanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) facility
ADSEP processes three cassettes simultaneously via a 13-pin blind-mated DSUB connector, which passes control signals, power and data between the ADSEP command computer and internal cassette electronics. Each ADSEP compartment can be held at a different temperature if requested. A variety of operations can occur in Techshot smart experiment cassettes, within which several combinations of pumps and valves and other moving parts such as translating actuators and rotating reactor vessels can be operated by external commands from on-board programs or by operators on the ground.
Each BISEP cassette contain two pairs of rotating plates with opposing cavities that, when activated on orbit, bring two liquids in contact with one another, for example precipitant and protein solutions for double-diffusion (aka liquid-liquid diffusion) crystal-growth experiments. It is also possible to perform dynamically controlled crystallizations, in which concentrations are deliberately raised by a second liquid-liquid exposure after nucleation and early crystal growthBulk mixing experiments can also be performed for the production of large numbers of uniform-sized crystals using the BISEP magnetic stirring system. The cavity volume is about 400 µL, so BISEP is suitable for research in which protein is abundant or for industrial crystallization experiments. Unmodified BISEP plates accommodate 44 fluid pairs in each cassette. With its three processing compartments, the ADSEP facility processes 132 tests simultaneously.
Typical low-volume experiments using membrane-based methods (dialysis and osmotic dewatering) can be performed using single commercial cells or Techshot’s 3-position inserts that fit inside each BISEP well allowing up to 396 simultaneous crystallization trials in the ADSEP facility with a choice of dialysis, osmotic dewatering or vapor diffusion methods.
Each CellCult cassette contains a 50 ml perfused rotating reactor vessel with controlled inlets and outlets, which is suitable for industrial crystallization experiments.
Multi-use Variable-g Platform (MVP) facility
MVP is Techshot’s most versatile research facility. It can simultaneously process six Generic Double Containment Cassettes (GDCC).
Generic Double Containment Cassettes (GDCC)
Each GDCC can hold a High Density Protein Crystal Growth (HDPCG) unit, readily available from CASIS. Each HDPCG unit accommodates 30 reaction cells that can be activated on orbit by the crew, automatically on a timeline, or remotely initiated by technicians on the ground at Techshot’s Payload Operations Control Center. In six cassettes in the MVP processing facility, for example, up to 180 simultaneous HDPCG experiments could be performed (these would need to be at a single temperature, with the possibility of deliberate slight differences among cassettes). Besides automated operation, an additional advantage of conducting HDPCG experiments inside GDCC cassettes in MVP is the option to include video and still microscopy inside each.
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