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Press Release 97-51

Sally V. Harrington
NASA Lewis Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-2037)

NASA Lewis Research Center and Parma High School students look forward to August 7 launch of Space Shuttle Discovery

CLEVELAND, OH--Scientists and researchers at NASA Lewis aren't the only ones interested in the next Space Shuttle flight scheduled to launch this week.

A group of students from Parma Senior High School in Parma, OH, are anxiously awaiting the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery STS-85 at 10:41 a.m. on Thursday, August 7, that will carry their lysozyme crystal research experiment into microgravity. Some of them will be at the Visitor Center at NASA Lewis Research Center to watch live coverage of the launch.

The purpose of the experiment is to contrast the lysozyme protein crystals grown in a gel matrix in microgravity to those similarly grown on earth. From the comparisons, many answers regarding the role of the matrix in maintaining the structural integrity of the crystal can be determined.

The students developed their experiment under the direction of chemistry and physics teacher Judy Lachvayder. Joe Delio, vocational electronics teacher at Parma High helped with the engineering of their experiment. They were just two of a diverse group of people who worked with the students.

Thomas Glasgow of the NASA Lewis Microgravity Science Division worked with Lachvayder on previous projects. He linked Christophe Nicolet of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a researcher working to better understand protein growth, with the students.

Glasgow also contacted Seven Hills, OH, resident Gerald Vinarcik whose hobby of machining and interest in working with students resulted in his creating the specimen holder for the experiment.

A Parma High parent and engineer, John T. Goering, and Chris Johnston of NASA Lewis assisted with the design. Also involved in the project were Professor David H. Matthiesen of Case Western Reserve University and Lynne Zielinski, a physics teacher from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, IL.

The student’s experiment is part of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center-sponsored Space Experiment Module (SEM). SEM is an education initiative sponsored by the NASA Shuttle Small Payloads Project, which provides nationwide educational access to space for kindergarten through university level students.

Within the program, NASA provides small containers or modules to students to fly microgravity experiments on the Space Shuttle. The experiments are created, designed, built, and implemented by students with teacher and/or mentor guidance.

Also flying on STS-85 are three experiments of interest to NASA Lewis scientists and engineers.

The Lewis-developed Critical Viscosity of Xenon (CVX) experiment will test, with great precision, several theories about the viscosity of fluids. In addition to advancing fundamental science, CVX's development fostered several technical innovations.

Another Lewis-developed experiment, the Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE-9), is making its ninth flight. SCCE has a long, successful history of flights. This experiment gathers data on the spread of flames over surfaces for the purpose of checking the theoretical understanding of the flame-spreading process.

The third Lewis experiment will study the effects of G-jitter on Brownian motion and diffusion, which is the slight vibration that still occurs in microgravity as a result of gravity’s effect. The liquid mixing experiment involved in this study also was developed at NASA Lewis by Dr. Walter M. B. Duval of the Microgravity Science Division. This work is directed at developing a better understanding of the effect of vibrations on the many experiments to be performed on the International Space Station scheduled to be built in 1998.

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