Bugs, amphibians, other creatures but no dogs sent into space
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You wanted to know
"Can dogs go into space?" asked a young patron attending the" Write-Away!" program at Vernon Area Public Library District in Lincolnshire.
Check it out
The Vernon Area Public Library District suggests these titles on animals in space:
• "Space chimp: NASA's Ape in Space" by Melinda Farman
• "Ham the Astrochimp" by Roy Gallant
• "Human Space Exploration" (World Book)
• Website: www.nasa.gov
It might seem like Noah's Ark at the International Space Station.
Wasps, beetles, tortoises, flies, worms, fish, spiders and bees are among the many creatures that have been rocketed 260 miles into space and docked at the International Space Station for scientific experimentation.
"There are no plans to bring a dog, or a typical pet, to the space station," said Allard Beutel, NASA spokesman.
There are many experiments conducted involving the effect of microgravity on cells, tissue, small organisms, earth science, technology and humans, and some of these experiments have been written and directed by students.
Since 2010, students around the country have shipped into space all types of organisms for microgravity studies conducted by space station scientists.
Called the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), communities of students or Scout groups in grade school through college are selected in a competitive process to submit experiments of their own design that will be shipped off to the International Space Station.
Once in space, scientists collect data as directed by the students and report findings.
Avicenna Academy Charter School in Crown Point, Ind., is now on its fourth SSEP scientific experiment. In January, Orb-1, operated by Cygnus, sped off into space with tubes of salamander eggs and lab experiment instructions written by Avicenna seventh-graders.
"Three Mexican salamanders were sent into space and three are in the classroom," said Amanda Arceo, Avicenna principal and sixth- through eighth-grade teacher.
SSEP's first round of student-designed experiments were transported on NASA's Endeavor and Atlantis shuttles.
Avicenna's very first student experiment was aboard Atlantis — the final flight for this space ship. Shuttle launches often would be delayed due to weather or for technical reasons.
Arceo said there was a lot of emotion riding on that first experiment when students heard rain was forecast for the launch date.
"Our first year in 2011, we watched the Space Shuttle Atlantis launch. When the countdown got to 13, it paused a few seconds, but they ended up redoing the countdown and it was launched," Arceo said.
Students gained real experience with professional scientists and were put through all the rigors of creating abstracts, researching possible experiments and writing proposals, just as if they were directing their own science labs.
"We developed a template with supporting math calculations that ended up being about a 14-page proposal," Arceo said.
The science and math components of the project are daunting, but perhaps one of the most challenging parts of the SSEP program is collecting enough funding to participate in the mission. The cost ranges from $20,000 to $25,000, Arceo said, and is generally shared across a scientific community of student groups.
Students present experiment results at the two-day National SSEP Conference in Washington, D.C., held at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
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