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Several Student-Led Experiments To Fly On Endeavour

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the one-for-hte-road dept.

Education 39

Phoghat writes "STS-134, the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour – is set to carry several experiments of students from the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. Two of these payloads are sponsored by the NASA Florida. The first experiment is one that could provide some guidance on future long-duration space flight missions, it deals with seed germination. As missions take astronauts further and further away from Earth, they will need to be able to produce their own food. Learning everything possible about the effects of micro-gravity on seeds therefore is viewed as relevant and important research. Another experiment, one comprised of squid embryos is being spearheaded by the University of Florida and will research the physiological impact of the micro-gravity environment on the animal's growth and development."

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Space Chicken (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951730)

This space chicken tastes just like squid!

Seed germination? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35954914)

Speaking about food, hasn't the seed thing been done already [nasa.gov] ?

Re:Seed germination? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35957618)

Well for one thing that article mentions tree seeds rather than more immediate crop seeds.. for another, I'd imagine that it's quite a complex topic that is worth doing plenty of research on, and there will be better analysis equipment available now than there was in the 70s.

Re:Seed germination? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35957778)

You're completely right, of course—but that doesn't stop plant biologists from being incredibly boring.

The major issue in question here is really about the dosages of cosmic radiation that seeds can handle; fluctuations in magnetic field are unlikely to have any impact, and obviously, since seeds tumble all the time, simply exposing them to microgravity isn't going to affect their development (until they germinate and start needing to know which way is down.)

Since grass and trees are about as far apart as us and snakes, there's likely to be a pretty significant difference in their radiation coping mechanisms. However, one thing's for certain: it's guaranteed to be about a billion times better than humans, since they have much more non-coding DNA, and a much longer history of being on the surface instead of safely tucked away underwater.

Bit schizophrenic (1)

macson_g (1551397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951768)

I find the combination of final flight of the space shuttle and as missions take astronauts further and further away from Earth in single paragraph a bit schizophrenic.

Re:Bit schizophrenic (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951820)

Because the only missions we've ever ran were Space Shuttle missions. No Apollo missions. No Mercury missions. No future missions on a yet to be designed space craft that are heading to Mars.

Re:Bit schizophrenic (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951860)

There's more to distance and height, of course, but as long as we're counting you'll note that the Apollo missions, specifically Apollo 13, took humans the furthest from Earth. We've spent the last 40 years not reaching higher and higher.

Re:Bit schizophrenic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35952882)

It boggles me that we first reached the moon 42 years ago when a single computer could take up an entire room, yet now that we can fit multiple processor cores on a single die, we have not gone any further than exploring a very small portion of the surface of the moon.

Re:Bit schizophrenic (2)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35954114)

It's because computer power isn't the biggest hurdle in space travel. Cheap and effective propulsion is the problem, and we only have marginal improvements compared to 40 years ago.

Re:Bit schizophrenic (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35956520)

Err, about that computer stuff...

The smaller processors are actually somewhat of a bigger hazard. These things known as cosmic rays [wikipedia.org] (and simila) tend to occasionally wreck delicate bits such as living cells and microscopic transistors. While no big deal down here on Earth, it is a big deal in space - w/o the big magnetic shield that the Earth currently enjoys, there's a whole lot more cosmic rays out there, than there are down here.

Back in the day [wikipedia.org] , the computer parts were spread relatively far apart, and even on-die, the transistors were a pretty good distance from each other. This meant that it would take quite a bit to wreck something, especially considering that (IIRC) the systems were redundant.

If you were to take up an off-the-shelf Core i7 (only for example) and try to use that for something vital, one even half-lucky shot by a cosmic ray could blow a register, or cause the thing to fry. You could certainly put together a system with multiple redundancies (aircraft and even spacecraft computers do this all the time - it only makes sense to), but again, the shielding, redundancy, and various other requirements that come with space travel usually mean that, even with modern techniques, you still end up with something a goodly distance behind the bleeding edge of Moore's Law.

(Not even seeing them use x86 (or even PPC) architecture, either... maybe MIPS, but I suspect that whatever they use, the architecture is probably built from scratch, especially for the job... not exactly something you can just buy 1,000 of from Intel or AMD, yanno? I could be wrong, but I suspect it's pretty custom, right down to the architecture).

Also, IIRC, the programming requirements are hellishly strict, and that they try to keep things as simple and short-pathed as humanly possible, if only to reduce any chance of bugs and/or outright failure. This means you don't need a Beowulf cluster of Nehalems to run the thing. :)

Re:Bit schizophrenic (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35958744)

Cosmic ray hit locations are random. The spacing between parts would not matter. The problem comes from there are many more components in a Core i7 than in the Apollo Guidance Computer, so there are more things to hit. On the other hand, you would never try to fly a Core i7 because it isn't radiation hardened. I agree with the statement that computer power is not the biggest hurdle to space travel because there are plenty of rad-hard processors that have orders of magnitude more processing power than what was on Apollo.

Electricity from a Potato.... (3, Funny)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951828)

In *space!*

Re:Electricity from a Potato.... (0)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951942)

GLaDOS? That You?

Re:Electricity from a Potato.... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952606)

D'oh! Spoiler!

Re:Electricity from a Potato.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35952032)

Hey Lady.
Hi Lady.
Lady.
Lady.
Lady.
Lady.
Hi Lady.
Wanna go to space?

Re:Electricity from a Potato.... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952470)

They can put it next to my "Lemons that will BLOW YOUR HOUSE UP!" experiment.

Do any of the editors ever edit? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35951858)

I know it's the usual cut-and-paste FS taken from TFA, but would it kill someone to do a little tidying up of grammar and punctuation?

Two of these payloads are sponsored by the NASA Florida.

Who calls it "The NASA"? I'll let that one pass.

The first experiment is one that could provide some guidance on future long-duration space flight missions, it deals with seed germination.

That should be a semi-colon (if you're not going to rewrite the entire god-awful sentence anyway), not a comma.

Learning everything possible about the effects of micro-gravity on seeds therefore is viewed as relevant and important research.

"is therefore" not "therefore is".

Another experiment, one comprised of

That should be "composed of" or "comprises", not "comprised of".

Another experiment, one comprised of squid embryos is being spearheaded by the University of Florida

Pair your damn commas!

and will research the physiological impact of the micro-gravity environment on the animal's growth and development."

So is that one animal, or several animals?

Here endeth the lesson.

Re:Do any of the editors ever edit? (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951884)

I normally hate you guys but this time you're right. I hope the rest of the article isn't that bad...I'd never know since reading the TFA is for namby-pambies.

Re:Do any of the editors ever edit? (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951890)

Wait, before you go off....I was redundant, I know. I was on the phone with my bank changing my PIN number.

Re:Do any of the editors ever edit? (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952098)

Who calls it "The NASA"? I'll let that one pass.

Copy-and-paste was broken. That should read:
"Two of these payloads are sponsored by the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium."

The rest of your complaints were with TFA, not TFS. The summary was just a copy-and-paste job...

That should be a semi-colon, not a comma.

Error was from TFA, not TFS.

"is therefore" not "therefore is".

I'd use "comma therefore comma is". But again, error was in TFA.

That should be "composed of" or "comprises", not "comprised of".

"Comprised of" is perfectly acceptable.

Pair your damn commas!

TFA, not TFS.

So is that one animal, or several animals?

One animal: the squid.

Re:Do any of the editors ever edit? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35953702)

The rest of your complaints were with TFA, not TFS. The summary was just a copy-and-paste job...

That fails to make the situation any better!

Re:Do any of the editors ever edit? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35956628)

Who calls it "The NASA"? I'll let that one pass.

Well, according to Invader Zim, it's supposed to be called "NASAPlace" [invaderzim.tv] .

I don't know about you (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35951898)

but I read Endor.
I've re-re-read, re-read it, and I still see - Experiments To Fly On Endor.

Re:I don't know about you (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952314)

It's dangerous to go alone. Take this [wikihow.com] .

Student LED experiments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35951910)

I read this as student LED experiments, picturing aircraft blasting through space looking like a techno-rave with streams of LED lasers emitted out every orifice the shuttle has (and then some)...

English, mother fracker! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35951954)

"...the NASA Florida"? I'm glad The NASA has so many fans around the world but maybe they should learn English? And...

"...squid embryos is being spearheaded..." Finally fresh food on a space mission! No more freeze-dried carrots! :D

-Jacob Roberson

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35952122)

I for one, welcome the squid overlords.

sacrifice of virgins is AFTER devirginization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35952280)

what a ripoff for the deities? no wonder they're shaking things up? fortunately, we now have revirginization (2nd, 3rd, 4th chance) surgical procedures, in china & many other countries, for previously unsacrificialable females, who don't want to miss the big Judgment Day cruise to hormuz, or the many other perks associated with perceived virtue, or lack of, to others. just think about the ride home?

Really? (3, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952304)

Is it only for the benefits of the students, or are you telling me that NASA waited until the very last shuttle launch to test something as important as seed germination in space?

And now, for the Slashdot cliché: screw the damn squids, they'll come back as giant evil overlords because of the space radiation or something...

Re:Really? (3)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35954810)

Is it only for the benefits of the students, or are you telling me that NASA waited until the very last shuttle launch to test something as important as seed germination in space?

It's not NASA studying seed germination, it's the students performing a [largely meaningless] "experiment".
 
NASA does love this kind of "experiment" though - because all they have to do is toss the packet of seeds in the back of a locker and ignore them. Teachers love this kind of "experiment" too because it gives the appearance of doing Serious Science without requiring too much work.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35958800)

It is also because there hasn't been any real science done on the Shuttle or Station in many many years.

Apple seeds ? (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952492)

Apparently, they are planning a very long mission if they will have the time to grow apple trees on board.

Farms.... IN SPAAAAACE! (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35952592)

As missions take astronauts further and further away from Earth,

ORLY? When's that happening?

they will need to be able to produce their own food.

For a long mission, say Mars, is it more efficient to just pack some sort of dense food or grow your own? You need more than seeds- growing medium, fertilizer, etc. You need to devote space for growing. I suppose you also get oxygen production for your efforts.

If you're taking a permanent presences, say something substantial at L4/L5, well, OK then.

I thought the last shuttle flight was last month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35953118)

I don't get this. The news last month was filled with stories of the last shuttle flight ever, and now here's another shuttle flight?

Wtf?

Re:I thought the last shuttle flight was last mont (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 3 years ago | (#35953630)

Last month was the final flight of Discovery. This is the final flight of Endeavour.

Killer Squids from Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35953688)

Sorry, don't have the full pitch yet, just the movie title...

Oh, crap (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35954310)

A line like

sponsored by the NASA

Makes it sound as though purchasing NASA is part of the grand publicity tour of The Donald.

This expensive nonsense has been done before (1)

kaplong! (688851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35954824)

Why does NASA feel the need to waste my tax dollars to repeat this nonsense over and over?

Re:This expensive nonsense has been done before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35957330)

But but but but space! Everything we know and use today came from space! Computers! Jet engines! Wheels! If you're not all about "exploring" space by repeating the same old stunts in orbit for decades, you're a loser! A short-sighted one! Wah! Space is important! There's nothing in it, but it's the future!

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