Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zero-gravity experiments

Date:
September 2, 2011
Source:
Louisiana Tech University
Summary:
Researchers will be floating high above the Gulf of Mexico this month to conduct zero-gravity testing of an experimental DNA analysis instrument that could benefit future NASA astronauts.

DNA analyzer developed at Louisiana Tech University.
Credit: Image courtesy of Louisiana Tech University

Researchers from Louisiana Tech University will be floating high above the Gulf of Mexico this month to conduct zero-gravity testing of an experimental DNA analysis instrument developed at Tech that could benefit future NASA astronauts.

Dr. Niel Crews, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Collin Tranter, a graduate student with the Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) say the instrument could be used to monitor the health of astronauts exposed to cosmic radiation beyond Earth's protective atmosphere.

"Our goal is to understand how the system behaves under conditions similar to actual deployment in space missions," said Crews. The Louisiana Tech-developed devices are beneficial to NASA because they are small, consume less power and require little to no human operation.

The Louisiana Tech researchers will subject themselves to extreme conditions in order to conduct sensitive testing of the miniature device. NASA has used these same flights to train their astronauts.

The instrument attracted the attention of NASA scientists for possible use on the International Space Station, during inter-planetary travel and even for unmanned missions to search for life within the Solar System.

"We hope that by working with NASA, one of our DNA analysis devices will be sent into orbit to study the effects of space environments on living things, first studying DNA then cells," said Tranter. "Some further testing has to occur first, such as making sure the device works properly in low-gravity conditions. This will be done on a parabolic aircraft flight hopefully before the end of the year."

The tests will take place on a NASA airplane operating out of Ellington Field at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The flight pattern will consist of forty steep dives and climbs over the Gulf of Mexico. A controlled dive of nearly 10,000 feet in less than one minute will result in approximately 20 seconds of weightlessness for the researchers and the payload onboard. An abrupt climb back to the starting altitude will create a gravitational force twice the normal amount.

Even Hollywood has gotten into the act, using these flights to depict weightlessness on the silver screen. All of the zero-gravity scenes in the movie Apollo 13 were filmed during these flights. The alternation between zero gravity and 2G forces can so disorienting that NASA astronauts call the aircraft the "vomit comet."

NASA recently selected this system for a week-long series of flights as part of their Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology (FAST) program, which focuses on expanding new technologies to be used in space flight applications.

Tranter is pursuing a Ph.D. in Nanosystems Engineering at Louisiana Tech and will continue to work with Crews on the project. He says they hope to learn very soon if their device can stand up to space environments.

"Low gravity can cause all kinds of unpredictable problems," Tranter said. "Eventually, I hope our system can reveal more about space radiation effects on DNA and cells, leading to options for safe space travel and exploration by humans. Our lab has studied some effects of radiation on DNA, such as UV exposure, but nothing on Earth compares to the environments we hope to study outside of the Earth's atmosphere."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Louisiana Tech University. The original article was written by Catherine Fraser. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Louisiana Tech University. "Zero-gravity experiments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110902110301.htm>.
Louisiana Tech University. (2011, September 2). Zero-gravity experiments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110902110301.htm
Louisiana Tech University. "Zero-gravity experiments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110902110301.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins