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Launch of Mission Discovery experiments

Science experiements designed by students from the Mission Discovery Programme held at King's College London in 2016 have recently been launched into space. 

Students worked together in teams to design various scientific experiments, which will now be carried out by astronauts aborad the International Space Station. 

The Mission Discovery Programme is run by the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) in collaboration with the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences (CHAPS) at King’s and involves various NASA astronauts, including Ken Ham and Michael Foale. Dr Julie Keeble from the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences oversaw the experiments in their development.

 Experiments by King's College London

The experiments from King’s are:

  • Microbial fuel cell - this experiment will show the usefulness of using microbes feeding on waste matter in a sealed environment to provide a power source to supplement the main fuel sources on the spacecraft.
  • Ionic liquor - this experiment will determine the lubricant properties of ionic fluid on the inside of the Space Station, to see if it reduces friction between a carborundum wheel and grinding stone.
  • Cactus-mediated carbon dioxide removal in microgravity - this experiment looks at how to measure the oxygen output and the CO2 intake of a selected form of cactus. As every 6th grade child learns, plants take up CO2 and “breathe” out oxygen. This is of obvious benefit to the space station and space travel if this process can be replicated safely in a microgravity environment. Plants are notoriously difficult to grow on the International Space Station, partly because they can ‘drown’ in the water they are being grown with. Unfortunately most plants need a lot of water to survive, causing problems with water supply. Furthermore, use of water diverts a precious resource in the Space Station. Cacti do not need a lot of water to maintain their existence and so are an ideal plant to send up to the ISS for this experiment.
  • Activity of Drosophila with movement disorders in microgravity - this experiment will look to see if there are any visible differences in flight between normal Drosophila flies and Drosophila with movement disorders in microgravity. We will also be monitoring a control version of the experiment back on Earth. We are looking to see if there are any positive differences in movement by placing the flies in a microgravity environment.

Students will have a chance to design experiements at this year's Mission Discovery programme in July. For further information, please visit the Mission Discovery website