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MIMI – Miniature Microscope

For space biology OIP participated in several studies and projects for the miniaturization of microscope diagnostics for ESA since the ‘90ies. This resulted in the definition, development and demonstration of Miniature Microscopes (MiMi)

OIP, as a subcontractor to Dutch Space (NL), developed two demonstration models of a very compact microscope microscope system for the automatic observation of live biological samples over extended periods of time.

OIP was responsible for the optical microscope subsystem. MiMi-100 aimed at accommodation inside the standard ISS Biolab container and MiMi-160 aimed at the standard container for the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS). Both containers feature a 60×60 mm² cross section of the experiment accommodation volume and a length of 100 mm and 160 mm, respectively.

Notably from the successful MiMi-100 and MiMi-160 projects the important conclusion could be drawn that fully automated miniature (container based) microscopes, making use of commercial components, were entirely feasible.

Space Biology

Space biology takes place within closed containers (vacuum tightness, thermal requirements, safety). As a consequence, microscope diagnostics must either be integrated with the experiment into in such a closed container, or in case of a manned environment, in a safe glovebox.

The container based approach has led to miniature microscope studies and projects for ESA since 1988.

Keywords

Solution: Instrumentation

Type: Microscope

Application field: Miniature microscope demonstration for space biology

Mission: Demonstrator

Status: Completed (1997-1999)

Miniature Microscopes

OIP’s participation in those studies, resulted in the definition, development and demonstration of two Miniature Microscopes (MiMi) (1997-1999).

MiMi-100 aimed at accommodation inside the standard Biolab container and MiMi-160 aimed at the standard container for the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS). Both containers feature a 60×60 mm² cross section of the experiment accommodation volume and a length of 100 mm and 160 mm, respectively.

The Miniature Microscope (MiMi) is a miniaturized microscope system with several observation modes (fluorescence, bright field and phase contrast) for the automatic observation of live biological samples over extended periods of time in space.
From the successful MiMi projects the important conclusion could be drawn that fully automated miniature microscopes, making use of commercial components, were entirely feasible for space use.

The natural next step was the extension of the usual bright field and phase contrast observation modes with fluorescence microscopy. The Advanced Experiment Container (AEC) in Biolab was conceived to host the desired fluorescence MiMi, which could benefit from rapid evolution and widespread use in the biology laboratory of green fluorescent protein (GFP).

 

Characteristics

Table MiMi-100 and MiMi-160 to be added

Mission

For space biology OIP participated in several studies and projects for the miniaturization of microscope diagnostics for ESA since the ‘90ies. This resulted in the definition, development and demonstration of Miniature Microscopes (MiMi)

OIP’s Participation

OIP, as a subcontractor to Dutch Space [former Fokker Space, The Netherlands], developed two demonstration models of a very compact microscope system for the automatic observation of live biological samples over extended periods of time. OIP was responsible for the optical microscope subsystem.

The models were MiMi-100 and MiMi-160.

The project was performed for ESA, under subcontract to Dutch Space

Status

All demonstration model microscopes were delivered to ESA and fully tested. Unfortunately none of the microscopes was selected for the ISS.

Notably from the successful MiMi-100 and MiMi-160 projects the important conclusion could be drawn that fully automated miniature (container based) microscopes, making use of commercial components, were entirely feasible. And this led to another microscope project, Fluor MiMi.

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