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Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Did you know that YOU (yes you!), can send science experiments to the International Space Station? 

To celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station, NASA STEM on Station is sending five student experiments to the space station through Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS). Selected teams will also engage K-12 students as a part of their experiment through citizen-science.

Get to know the 5 college teams sending their experiments to space!

Arkansas State University 

Team: A-State Science Support System

Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Experiment Title: Microgravity Environment Impact on Plastic Biodegradation by Galleria mellonella

Experiment Description: Discover the ability of wax worms to degrade plastics in space.

Why did you propose this experiment?

  • Our team’s passion for sustainability developed into novel ideas for space travel through biodegradation of plastics. 

How will the experiment benefit humankind or future space exploration?

  • If our experiment is successful, it will “launch” us closer to understanding how to reduce humankind’s plastic footprint on Earth and allow us to safely push farther into unknown planetary habitats.

How have you worked together as a team during the pandemic?

  • Unknown to each other before the project, our interdisciplinary team formed through virtual communication.

What science fiction character best represents your team and why?

  • The sandworms of Dune represent our team perfectly considering their importance in space travel, the natural ecological service they provide, and their sheer awesomeness

Columbia University

Team: Columbia Space Initiative

Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Experiment Title: Characterizing Antibiotic Resistance in Microgravity Environments (CARMEn)

Experiment Description: Discover the impact of mutations on bacteria in microgravity when grown into a biofilm with fungus.

Why did you propose this experiment?

  • As a highly interdisciplinary team united by our love of outer space, SPOCS was the perfect opportunity to fuse biology, engineering, and education into a meaningful team project.

How will the experiment benefit humankind or future space exploration?

  • Studying how different microorganisms interact with each other to develop bacterial resistance in space will help improve antibiotic treatments for future Artemis astronauts.

How have you worked together as a team during the pandemic?

  • Most of our team actually hasn’t ever met in person—we’ve been videoconferencing weekly since May!

What science fiction character best represents your team and why?

  • Our team is definitely Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, because we strive to reach infinity (or at least the International Space Station) and beyond!

Stanford University

Team: Stanford Student Space Initiative

Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Experiment Title: Biopolymer Research for In-Situ Capabilities (BRIC)

Experiment Description: Determine how microgravity impacts the solidification of biobricks.

Why did you propose this experiment?

  • We have an ongoing project to design and build a machine that turns lunar or Martian soil into bricks, and we want to learn how reduced gravity will impact the process.

How will the experiment benefit humankind or future space exploration?

  • We are studying an environmentally-friendly concrete alternative that can be used to make structures on Earth and other planets out of on-site, readily available resources.

How have you worked together as a team during the pandemic?

  • We transitioned our weekly meetings to an online format so that we could continue at our planned pace while maintaining our community.

What science fiction character best represents your team and why?

  • Like our beloved childhood friend WALL-E, we craftily make inhospitable environments suitable for life with local resources.

University of Idaho

Team: Vandal Voyagers I

Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Experiment Title: Bacteria Resistant Polymers in Microgravity

Experiment Description: Determine how microgravity impacts the efficacy of bacteria resistant polymers.

Why did you propose this experiment?

  • The recent emphasis on surface sterility got us thinking about ways to reduce the risk of disease transmission by surfaces on the International Space Station.

How will the experiment benefit humankind or future space exploration?

  • If successful, the application of proposed polymers can benefit humankind by reducing transmission through high contact surfaces on and off Earth such as hand rails and door handles.

How have you worked together as a team during the pandemic?

  • We are allowed to work collaboratively in person given we follow the current university COVID guidelines.

What science fiction character best represents your team and why?

  • Mark Watney from The Martian because he is willing to troubleshoot and problem solve on his own while collaborating with NASA from afar.

University of New Hampshire at Manchester

Team: Team Cooke

Get to Know the 5 College Teams Sending Their Experiments to Space!

Experiment Title: Novel Methods of Antibiotic Discovery in Space (NoMADS)

Experiment Description: Determine how microgravity impacts the amount of bacterium isolates that produce antibiotic metabolites.

Why did you propose this experiment?

  • To contribute to the limited body of knowledge regarding bacterial resistance and mutations in off-Earth conditions.

How will the experiment benefit humankind or future space exploration?

  • Understanding how bacteria in the human microbiome and on spacecraft surfaces change can ensure the safe and accurate treatment of bacterial infections in astronauts.

How have you worked together as a team during the pandemic?

  • Our team continued to evolve our communication methods throughout the pandemic, utilizing frequent remote video conferencing, telecommunications, email, and in-person conferences.

What science fiction character best represents your team and why?

  • Professor Xavier, the founder of the X-Men, because he also works with mutants and feels that while they are often misunderstood, under the right circumstances they can greatly benefit the world.

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