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NASA's O/OREOS Dunking Bacteria in Space Rays

Today NASA officials announced that a tiny satellite launched last week has started conducting astrobiology experiments in low-Earth orbit.

No bigger than a bread box, the Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses, or O/OREOS, satellite lifted off from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska on November 19 aboard a U.S. Air Force rocket.

Inside the nanosatellite's [not-so-creamy] center are two types of microbes commonly found in salt ponds and soil—Halorubrum chaoviatoris and Bacillus subtilis—as well as samples of organic molecules.

About three hours after launch, an amateur radio operator in Torino, Italy, received the first signals from the spacecraft, confirming the satellite had reached orbit.

Shortly after, the O/OREOS mission control team, based at Santa Clara University in California, began system checks to make sure the craft was in good health and flying right.

When the checkup was complete, O/OREOS autonomously started one of its two experiments. The second should kick into gear this Friday.

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