Seven students from Gadsden State Community College have returned after testing their NASA research mentored experiments aboard NASA’s reduced gravity aircraft. The students are busy evaluating their data after experiencing weightlessness at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston.
The team participated in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP) as part of the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP). These teams of undergraduate students from across the nation the opportunity were selected to work with NASA mentors on current NASA research and design, build, fly and evaluate experiments in microgravity. The team was selected based on scientific merit and education outreach potential.
The Gadsden State Community College team tested their experiment aboard G-Force One, a microgravity aircraft that can produce periods of weightlessness lasting up to 25 seconds at a time by flying a series of approximately 30 parabolas–a steep climb followed by a free fall–over the Gulf of Mexico. The students along with their faculty advisors Audrey Webb and Dave Hyatt debriefed after their return with Dr. William Blow, interim president at GSCC, and Dean Tim Green, technical education and workforce development. “For our students to work with such a prestigious organization like NASA is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Audrey Webb, faculty advisor for the group.
The student team flew their experiment, Microgravity Fluids Testing for Plant Growth Systems in November. It investigated an APH Humidity Control Unit, utilizes porous tubes under suction for both humidifying and dehumidification of air within the plant chamber. The objectives of the test are to identify the optimal volume and rate of water for priming, to determine optimal pore size for priming, and to study whether stainless or ceramic tubes are best for priming under microgravity during the reduced gravity flights. The team will issue a final report analyzing the experiment’s effectiveness, scientific findings and conclusions to NASA in two months.
For more information about the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program, visit the website at: http://reducedgravity.jsc.nasa.gov. For more information about the Minority University Research and Education Program, visit: https://microgravityuniversity.jsc.nasa.gov/murep/ or contact Ashle Harris at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Public Affairs Office, at 281-792-7457, or firstname.lastname@example.org.