Space Biology

Have you ever wondered what happens to people’s bodies when they spend an extended period of time living in space?

Once confined to science fiction, space exploration and tourism are the new frontiers of science, travel, and adventure. Space exploration has shaped our ideas about living on Earth, from sustainable agriculture to health and disease. But what happens to the biology of plants and animals reared on the International Space Station? How can these studies help us to understand what happens to humans in space? After all, there are people who have lived in space for a year or more; what happens to them, and what would happen to them if they stayed for much longer periods of time? This course will cover the study of genes in living cells and organisms using actual gene sequencing from NASA studies from the International Space Station and on Earth.

The course features a hands-on, cloud-based laboratory to discover the changes to genes in organisms living or bred in microgravity. Students will upload gene sequencing information from NASA and use cloud software to inspect DNA and RNA molecules of genes to learn what happens to both health and disease in organisms living in space.

Live Classes: Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Student Expectations: Each week there will be a list of assignments and activities for the next week posted in the online classroom. These may include readings, videos, or websites. Students must complete the assignments, which are due the following week before class. A report on each student’s findings from the course is due at the end of the semester.

Student Support: The instructor is available by email.

Feedback/Assessment: The instructor will provide written feedback on activities and written assignments.

Materials/Supplies: All materials and access to software for the course will be provided.

Prerequisites: None


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