EXPO - Genesiss


EXPO - Genesiss




Project Name: EXPO - Genesiss

Customer: European Space Agency – In collaboration with Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL

Objective: Phase A/B design of the GENESISS experiment hardware for ESA’s EXOBIOLOGY facility on the ISS


The GENESISS experiment lead by Kew Gardens has been selected to fly to the ISS as part of the EXOBIOLOGY facility to study the effects exposure to the space environment has on plant seeds. Finding out the resilience of different species of seeds to the harsh conditions of space and the mechanisms underpinning this resilience is key for the selection, storage and transport of appropriate seed species for future long-term space travel missions.

In the space environment seeds will be exposed simultaneously to a number of different extreme conditions such as vacuum, microgravity, full spectrum solar irradiation including UV and energetic particle radiation, as well as large variations in temperature. It is not possible to faithfully replicate all of these conditions in a laboratory on the ground and certainly not simultaneously.

The experiment requires in-situ monitoring of a range of test samples for outgassed volatile compounds with a mass spectrometer, and further sensors to measure seed humidity and seed mass loss.

The mass spectrometer currently baselined is MSSL’s Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS), a miniaturised modular standalone sample carrier unit with simple mechanical and electrical interfaces, that provides a compact, low-cost, high TRL solution for GENESISS. Already successfully flown on the EU’s QB50 mission, this payload has an envelope equivalent to 1U and forms the basis for the whole instrument.


Kayser’s responsibility was to develop a design able to accommodate the number of different exposure conditions of the seed samples (evacuated vs pressurised and direct solar exposure vs shaded from the Sun). A total of four units are required, each with its own mass spectrometer and each furnished with two seed trays (exposed to and shaded from the Sun). Additional sensors to measure humidity and mass loss are in principle required for each of the seed cells. After the Phase A/B activity, a feasible configuration of seed trays and sensors has been achieved.

Phase C/D of the EXOBIOLOGY facility will be led by Kayser Italia, during which the common module and the first scientific module will be built. The GENESISS instrument is baselined for flight in the second scientific module.


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