Three University of the West of Scotland students’ projects have been launched into orbit and are heading for the International Space Station (ISS).

The experiments – involving plant growth in microgravity, worms in space and nanoparticles in microgravity – will be monitored by astronauts on the ISS for six weeks

It comes as part of the University’s space research partnership with the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET).

Discussing the partnership, Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal of Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS, said: “The University is immensely proud to be part of such an important initiative, which puts Scotland firmly on the map for this type of exploratory study. We are delighted to give our PhD students the chance to explore the unknown opportunities that space - and the ISS itself - presents via their research projects and they have had the wonderful experience of being able to watch their experiments launch into space.”

Our partnership with ISSET is undoubtedly bringing many benefits to both our academics, our PhD students, and their research, and will go a long way in building our knowledge of what’s achievable, both in space and on Earth.

Professor Milan Radosavljevic, Vice-Principal of Research, Innovation and Engagement at UWS

“UWS is a leader in global knowledge creation, research and innovation and this is another example of us being able to provide opportunities for academics and students to collaborate internationally, on research projects with global impact.

“The initiative is incredibly important in helping us develop innovative solutions for advancement in hard-to-reach places; enabling us to offer better solutions elsewhere. Congratulations to the academics and students involved in the projects and I know you will benefit greatly from this fantastic opportunity.”

The plant growth in microgravity experiment, which is overseen by Professor Des Gibson and his PhD student, Sam Ahmadzadeh from UWS, launched on 6 November from Wallops Island site, Virginia, on Cygnus NG18.

This project will deploy a smart sensing system with LED lighting technology specific to the growth of plant life. The project’s primary objective is development of smart integrated multi-sensing and intelligent lighting control tools relevant to precision plant cultivation in the space environment, where the goal is to optimise the yield, quality and monitor growth of healthy plant life in microgravity.

The remaining two projects launched on 26 November from Kennedy Space Centre, on SpaceX CRS 26. The worms in space project, which is overseen by Professor Fiona Henriquez and her PhD student, Daniel Raimbach, aims to understand the biological changes that take place in a space environment, to help us further understand the impacts for space travel in humans and also apply these findings on Earth.

The nanoparticle activity in microgravity project, involving Dr Mohammed Yaseen and PhD student Marija Nekrasova, aims to use investigate the influence of microgravity on nanoparticle formation, which will provide fundamental information on the viability of synthesis of nanomaterials in space for use both in space and on Earth.

The PhD students were selected after applying to be part of the project. ISSET was founded in 1998, with the mission to use space exploration and the people behind it, to motivate students from all backgrounds to realise their potential, grow their confidence and help them achieve their dreams, in whichever field they choose.

Extracted from University of West of Scotland website - read more here

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