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NASA and ASGSB Select Students To Fly Space Biology Experiment
Astronaut Shannon Walker activates NanoRacks aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA

Astronaut Shannon Walker activates NanoRacks aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA

NASA and the American Society for Gravitational Space Biology (ASGSB) have selected a group of summer students to fly a space biology experiment titled "Insect Flight Aerodynamics and Biology in Altered Gravity Environments," utilizing NanoRacks aboard the International Space Station.

The students submitted their applications through the NASA Student On-Line Application for Recruiting Interns, Fellows and Scolars (SOLAR), which allows applicants to use one system to search and apply for all types of NASA internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities. These undergraduate students are currently funded by three different NASA summer student programs: the Undergraduate Student Research Program, Education Associates Program and University Affiliated Research Center Systems Teaching Institute.

Together, ASGSB and NASA chose the insect flight experiment for its feasibility and its compatibility with the NanoRacks system; ASGSB entered into an agreement with NanoRacks through a partnership with the Science and Technology Corporation (STC). ASGSB Director Cindy Martin-Brennan said, "we are forging a new quadrilateral agreement between ASGSB, a gravitational science society that fosters young scientists; NanoRacks, a commercial space service provider; STC, a private company that values investment in the next generation of scientists, and NASA scientist mentors who believe it is critical to train the next generation of scientists."

Two of the students selected for this experiment recently featured scientific posters at the ASGSB meeting, held in San Jose, Calif. on November 3, 2011. The two posters produced were titled, "Development of ISS Payload to Examine Flight Patterns of Drosophila Melangaster Under-Long Term Microgravity Exposure" and "Experimental Testing for Fruit Fly Behavior in the NASA ARC Vertical Motion Simulator."

This space biology experiment is planned to launch in the second half of 2012. It is expected that this program will continue in 2012 with a new group of students.