TheSpringInstitute Projects

The SCAMPI Project




    Here's what the SCAMPI Project is all about.

    • Closed Aquatic Ecosystem

      We are investigating not just one plant or animal, but a whole ecosystem of algae, microbes, and shrimp to understand how the space environment impacts communities.

    • On International Space Station

      Our payload will be hosted on the ISS for 90 days and then returned to Earth for analysis. It will be completely autonomous and require no astronaut time.

    • Genetic Analyses

      To determine the effect of microgravity on this aquatic ecosystem, we will conduct a number of transcriptomic, metabolomic, and genomic tests to determine individual and community responses to space stressors.

    • Supported by ESA

      This mission is conducted under the PETRI Program - a European Space Agency program to send a university mission to space. Thanks for the support!


    Understanding and investigating changes in the biological behaviour of earth ecosystems in space is fundamental to the success of long-term human space missions. With current efforts towards building closed-loop, bioregenerative life support systems (BLSS), such as the MELiSSA project, we are making great advancements in understanding the independent subsystems. Previous biological experiments in microgravity have examined various types of organisms individually such as bacteria, worms, fungi, algae, and other species to characterize their response to stress generated by various space conditions (microgravity, ionizing radiation, vacuum, etc.). We are working to extend previous biological experiments in microgravity and to look into the holistic effect of space conditions on a multitrophic ecological system, named the Ecosphere.

    Example of an Ecosphere

    Ecospheres are simple, self-sustaining model ecosystems that have been proven to persist for years with zero material input and minimal energy input (as light/heat). They are merely composed of a population of Halocaridina rubra shrimp and an uncharacterized microbial community enclosed in a sealed orb. Our experiment will further contain a macroalgae of the Chaetomorpha genus.

    Examining the effects of the space environment on any ecosystem requires a long exposure to the space conditions, which is why this experiment will be hosted on the International Space Station in the ICE Cube Facilities. The primary goal of this project is to determine the survivability of the ecosphere in space and to further examine the influence of space conditions on a multilevel ecological system. Several secondary questions will also be investigated, including sloshing modes in the Ecosphere, changes in the microbial communities, and how the space environment affects the abiotic parameters of the ecosystem.

    The future applications of the project will be the development of several compact self-contained satellites with similar ecosystems as biological payloads. We also foresee that the notion of a fully functioning ecosystem surviving in space has both scientific and social value so that it will inspire the general public, especially younger generations, illustrating the importance of nature
    conservation on earth and the thrill of space exploration

    The SCAMPI Team

    It takes a lot of passionate people to pull off a space mission.

    • SCAMPI Mascot
    • Tarek Ben Slimane Project Lead
    • Patrick Grubbs Science Lead
    • Jordan Carrico Lead Engineer
    • Alvaro Ropero Bioinformatician
    • Costanza Torchia Biologist
    • Solene Roche Biologist
    • Lawrence Warnock Biologist
    • Jorge Galvan Lobo Aerospace Engineer
    • Raphaelle Davy Sensor Engineer
    • Yasser Moumtaz Thermal Engineer
    • Jules Loupy Engineer


    Vibration testing the SCAMPI aquarium, including shrimp, to ensure they will survive launch conditions. Believe it or not, most survived!


    December 2022
    SCAMPI Proposal Submitted

    February 2023
    SCAMPI Project Selected

    May 2023
    Shrimp Colony Established

    July 2023
    Engineering Design Finalized

    September 2024
    Planned Launch

    Very subject to change.