December 4, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Toulouse Blob sets out to join Thomas Pesket

Toulouse Blob sets out to join Thomas Pesket

The “blob” was part of an experiment made in Toulouse for the Thomas Pesket mission. This unique giant cell, whose behavior has been studied by researcher Audrey Dustour for many years, will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

They are called Blackby von Kenobi, numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. These four “blisters” are single-celled organisms bred in the Toulouse Laboratory of the Center for Research on Animal Cognition (1), this Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet Visit the International Space Station (ISS) on the Cygnus NG-16 Freighter to complete a series of experiments. This yellow and viscous giant cell, belonging to the class of Myxomycetes, which has been little studied under micro-gravity conditions, is almost the first.
On the field, she is the Director of Research at CNRS Audrey Dassault Who is ordering. Nicknamed the “Blob” (reference to the 1958 American science fiction film), Phisarum Polycephalus specializes in making the Toulouse woman a science star, a formidable popular tool for telling about the living world.

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For Thomas Pesket’s second mission to the ISS, she designed an experiment with the CNES, the national center for space studies, that thousands of school children could do in parallel on Earth. For the astronaut, for students, it is a question of seeing how the blob moves when he is alone and how it grows and how it connects to the four vote miles arranged in the square around it. And compare the results obtained under different conditions. “We’ll see if micro-gravity goes in different directions. We’ll see if the lack of gravity changes its perceptual capabilities, if its motion is disturbed,” the scientist explained.

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Sterilization and Vibration Resistance Tests

Before flying away, the small blisters had to complete a series of certification steps: they were tested for consistent glue, bleach and 90 alcohol baths for sterilization, tests to make sure they were once rehydrated, that they could not escape from their box, resistance to vibrations encountered during takeoff … For the box that keeps them designed with the company Komat‌, the system needs to integrate lighting and video recording. They all left for America last April.

The box with the “blob” was created in Toulouse by CNES and company Komat.

“Thomas Pesket does not see blisters. He does not even know if his rehydration manipulation works. We all hope that saving images will work!”, Slips Audrey Dustour.
While waiting for Blobs to wake up (the manipulation is scheduled for late September at the ISS), the researcher and her students, Celia, Emily and Marion, are working to get 5,000 school children to receive their experience kit early on. Academic year ..

(1) CRCA / National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

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