Irish second level students are in with a chance to develop a science experiment for testing on a microgravity flight this October to help address the issue of sustaining life beyond this planet.
Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) will fly a number of microgravity flights in Ottawa, Canada at the National Research Council and thanks to a unique partnership with The Irish Composites Centre (IComp) at University of Limerick, Irish students will be part of those flights.
IComp is inviting 15-17 year old students to take part in an international effort to further our understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and space exploration. The students are required to team up, with either a female lead or a minimum of two females per team, and develop ideas for experiments focused on environmental issues. This initiative runs parallel to the PoSSUM 13 International Microgravity Flight Challenge, an effort to celebrate the Mercury 13 and the achievements of women in space science.
The October flight itself is planned for 18 parabolas, a curved flight path which provides researchers with an opportunity to test an experiment for 15-20 seconds in microgravity. This truly unique opportunity is made even more special due to the fact that there are humans in the loop; meaning experiments will be handled and controlled by researchers on board. Added to this, the Irish student experiment selected to fly in October will be handled and controlled by a researcher wearing a pressurized intravehicular activity (IVA) spacesuit, which is something that has never been done before.
Dr Norah Patten, Project Manager at IComp said: ‘This is an opportunity for students to develop skills in STEM, teamwork, research and creativity – all of which are skills that are required throughout our careers. And what better place to develop these skills than a microgravity flight opportunity! I truly hope it sparks the interest and imagination of these students’.
The competition announced today will remain open until Tuesday May 14th with all details and terms and conditions available on www.icomp.ie. The top 5 entries will be invited to the University of Limerick on May 23rd to present their experiment and ideas to a panel of experts, where the winner will be selected. The winning team will work with experts at IComp and UL to prepare the experiment for the October flight. This opportunity was made possible thanks to the sponsorship received through IComp, The Bernal Institute, Varicomp and The Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Limerick.