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Johns Hopkins: Melanin Samples Headed to NASA’s International Space Station to Test Melanin’s Radiation Shielding Properties in Space

Research led by Dr. Radames J.B. Cordero, a research associate in the department of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is headed to the International Space Station as part of two National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space exposure experiments. Dr. Cordero’s team, which includes PhD candidate Mr. Quigly Dragotakes, isolated melanin from fungi to explore its ability to absorb and shield radiation energy.

The research, funded in part by a seed grant from the Bloomberg School Technology Development Accelerator Fund, will test whether melanin is effective at shielding against space radiation, a property that may serve to protect humans and equipment during lunar and Mars missions.

The melanin-based samples will fly as part of two NASA Glenn Research Center experiments being flown on the International Space Station’s external Materials International Space Station Experiment-Flight Facility (MISSE-FF). The first experiment is part of the MISSE-12 mission, currently scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on October 29. The second experiment will fly as part of the MISSE-13 mission, planned for launch to ISS in the spring of 2020.

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