One small step for Rye

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By Mansoor Tanweer

Ryerson students will team up with high school science students and compete to propose a science experiment that will go to the International Space Station.

The program is called the Ryerson Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) and is the first time the SSEP will be coming to Ryerson. SSEP is in partnership with Nanoracks, which works in partnership with NASA.

Teams of five – three mentoring Ryerson students with two high school students – will work together to design an experiment proposal that will potentially be sent out to space. The high school candidates will be chosen from the GTA where students have little engagement or opportunity in the sciences.

Nathan Battersby, who brought the SSEP to Ryerson, got the idea when he noticed American students dominated it.

“This gives students in the sciences the opportunity to get research experience because, as we all know, we need to get some sort of experience before we get out,” Battersby said.

The focus of the experiments this year will be to test the effects of space’s microgravity. Materials and systems behave in space differently because of the special physics of outer space.

“Imagine now the vacuum of space. Would the chemistry and kinetics of movement of the particles be different? That could be one experiment,” said Bryan Koivisto, the program’s faculty director and a chemistry professor at Ryerson.

The SSEP was initiated in 2010 and this will be the eighth mission to be launched by the program.

But not all missions are smooth.

The sixth mission of the program, which lifted off on Oct. 28, 2014, included a science experiment from students in Kamloops, B.C.

The test was designed to see the effects of microgravity on crystal formations.

The experiment was destroyed when the Antares rocket exploded shortly after takeoff due to an unknown anomaly.

Mission eight will be using a different rocket called the Kitty Hawk, which is set to launch, weather permitting on Oct. 14, 2015.

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