The KEU-RO Experiment Unit is a device capable of performing automatic cell culture of non–adherent cells (i.e. cells that grow in suspension) in microgravity. It is equipped with reservoirs for chemicals (culture medium, fixatives) and a culture chamber allowing cell growth in suspension.

The scientific protocol is led by the KEU-RO electronics following a predefined timeline. At the end of the experiment the ROALD Experiment Unit can be stowed at controlled temperatures, down to -80°C. After stowage and re-entry on Earth, cell cultures can be analyzed with molecular biology-based approaches for genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic studies or cytofluorimetry.




Fluidic systems 4
Fluidic actuators  3 each fluidic system (6 in total with shared activation)
Fluidic actuators type PLUNGERS
Fluidic reservoirs 2 each fluidic system (8 in total)
Culture chambers 1 each fluidic system (4 in total)
Levels of Containment  (LoC) 1
Fluidic System Volume  ask for information
Automatic control YES
On-Board Electronic Controller YES (with internal Clock & Timeline)
Experiment Unit size ≈ 82x39x19 mm
Experiment Unit mass   ≈ 72 grams (fully assembled)
Fits into  KIC-SL (1 LoC)
Compatible Controller  NOT REQUIRED (on-board controller)



QUALIFIED FOR  Manned Flight Carrier (Soyuz)
QUALIFIED FOR Manned Flights – Use on ISS



So far, the KEU-RO Experiment Unit has been used to study cell growth on lymphocytes.

 Each KEU-RO Experiment Unit (EU) is made of a semi-crystalline thermoplastic polymer with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties, biologically inert. Cross contamination among the fluids chambers are avoided due to proper sealing gaskets. The EU itself provides one Level of Containment (LoC) that is increased to two by using KIC-SL containers class. The experiment is fully autonomous; all the actions are electrically controlled by a predefined timeline uploaded into the on-board microcontroller. Housekeeping data are recorded during the mission and downloaded at re-entry.

 The typical fluidic concept carries out the KEU-RO experimental protocol which relies on three main steps, i.e. T-lymphocytes activation, T-lymphocytes incubation, T-lymphocytes fixation. On the whole, the actions performed by the fluidic system are led by preloaded spring actuators activated by the control electronics. Such  mechanism pushes the pistons inward displacing the fluids (Activator or Fixative) contained into  the  chemicals  reservoirs  (Activator  or  Fixative  reservoir)  towards  the Culture Chamber (CC). Each CC is provided with a floating piston to allow an expandable volume for fluid injections.  Short channels connect independently the reservoirs to the CCs so that cells are activated or fixed (see figures below).





2008 ROALD  PI

Mauro Maccarrone (University of Teramo)

2011 RESLEM PI Natalia Battista (University of Teramo)
2017 SERISM PI Mauro Maccarrone (Campus Bio-Medico Univeristy of Rome)



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