November 16, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying UVM DNA extraction technology launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 9, 2023.
(NOVEMBER 16, 2023) Scott Tighe, technical director for the Advanced Genome Technologies Core, Julie Dragon, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and director of the Vermont Biomedical Research Network Data Science Core, and Kirsten Tracy, Ph.D., senior scientist in the Vermont Integrative Genomics Resource Core, were featured on WCAX-TV in a story about their µTitan project, which was launched into space on November 9.
Last Thursday’s blastoff of a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center was a moment that Tighe had been counting down to for years.
“After three years of working on this and thinking about it 24 hours a day, when you finally see that payload go up, the relief is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Wow, it’s there.’ But more importantly, was when it docked, and it’s like, ‘OK, it made it there safely.’ And you feel like the project’s done, but it’s only just begun.”
That project is called µTitan, or Micro-Titan, and Tighe says it could help pave the way for future space travel. “If we’re going to go to Mars, we’re going to have to analyze many things—human health, food, the microbiome of space capsules.”
µTitan has two primary objectives: benchmarking the use of hermetically sealed microgravity-compatible extraction cassettes for automated DNA extraction in space, and investigating the efficacy of a novel DNA sample preservative to help eliminate the need for cellular-based samples to be returned to Earth in cold storage.
Read full story