Students Send Microbe Experiment on Space Shuttle Atlantis

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HOUSTON -- An experiment by college students that will study how
microbes grow in microgravity is heading to orbit aboard space
shuttle Atlantis.

Undergraduate and graduate students at Texas Southern University in
Houston developed the experiment that will fly as part of the STS-129
mission. The mission is scheduled to launch at 2:28 p.m. EST on Nov.
16 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"I'm thrilled that giving students the chance to design and research
an experiment to fly in space is one of the tools we have at NASA to
engage them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,"
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori B. Garver said." These young people
are our future, and providing an opportunity to inspire them is a
major part of our mission at NASA."

NASA's Office of Education selected Texas Southern University as a
2008 University Research Center. Texas Southern established a Center
for Bionanotechnology and Environmental Research. Students at the
center developed the Microbial-1 experiment to evaluate the
morphological and molecular changes in E. coli and B. subtilis

"The University Research Center Project is designed to enhance the
research infrastructure and capacity at minority institutions," said
Katrina Emery, NASA's University Research Center project manager at
the agency's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. "By
engaging in participatory learning opportunities like this
experiment, students can see themselves as researchers, now and in
the future."

This space shuttle flight experiment is a proof-of-concept model for
the URC project to give students hands-on experience. The experiment
provides the university students the opportunity to design, monitor
and execute the study in laboratories, as well as near real-time on
the space shuttle. Each component of the experiment is designed for
easy reproduction in the classroom, providing a valuable experience
to students.

"This is an amazing opportunity for our students, and it reflects the
growing quality of our research programs at Texas Southern," said
John M. Rudley, president of Texas Southern University. "We are
excited our students have the opportunity to participate in such
relevant research. We are also pleased that with our partnerships
with area school districts, we are able to take these projects beyond
the university to the school classrooms to encourage more students to
study science, math, and technology."

The unique experimental data will be used to develop grade-appropriate
microbiology modules for students in kindergarten through twelfth
grade. Data downloaded from NASA's Payload Operations and Control
Center will be available on the research center's Web site. In
addition, educators will receive a teacher's guidebook featuring
background information, lesson plans and student activities for
conducting this project in their classrooms. BioServe Space
Technologies at the University of Colorado is providing management
support and hardware for the experiment.

Texas Southern University is one of 13 universities to receive grant
funding from NASA's University Research Center project. The project
is designed to enhance the research capabilities of minority-serving
institutions and increase the production of underrepresented and
underserved students majoring in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics disciplines.

For information about NASA education programs, visit:


For information about Texas Southern University's Center for
Bionanotechnology and Environmental Research, visit:


NASA's Digital Learning Network will host a launch day webcast Nov. 16
beginning at 1:28 p.m. EST and culminating with liftoff. The webcast
will feature a discussion about the Microbial-1 experiment. Watch
online at:


For information about the STS-129 mission to the International Space
Station, visit:


Source: NASA

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