Feverish last minute preparations for the eight students of the University of Bremen taking part in an experiment they want to see included in a space mission one day: They entered their idea in the nation-wide “High Flyer” competition organized by the German Aerospace Center. And they have already cleared the first hurdle with their project called “FORALEX”: They will be traveling to DLR headquarters in Bonn in early May to present their experimental design. Eight of the 24 teams that submitted proposals have made it this far and been invited to Bonn. As the moment approaches, they’re naturally experiencing a good deal of stage fright.
Test at an altitude of 250 miles
The Bremen students want to investigate the growth of the shells of underwater unicellular organisms under conditions of zero gravity. They expect important findings that may have significance in bionics and medicine. A very special feature of the competition: the 30-day, 250-mile-high experiment traveling at a trajectory velocity of nearly 20,000 miles per hour will be carried out by no less a person than ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst. Everything needed for the test has to fit into a box called the NanoLab, the sides of which measure just ten centimeters: That not only includes the tiny organisms, though, but also cameras, sensors and a small computer as large as a smartphone.
Follow the start live
In accordance with competition rules, the Bremen team is highly interdisciplinary: They are students of Biology, Marine Biology, Computer Science and Systems Engineering and even trainee teachers of Biology and Chemistry. Several institutes and business firms are supporting the students’ engagement and the originality of their idea. In Bonn, a highly renowned jury will select the three most convincing experiments, which Alexander Gerst will then take with him on his space mission in 2018. The winning team will be on location to witness the launch, and at the University of Bremen hopes are high that it will be the eight-person team from our University.
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