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Four Canadian University Teams Selected to Conduct Experiments in Simulated Microgravity

Press Release From: Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (Canada)
Posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-Canada) has selected the four finalist teams among a pool of applications for its latest initiative, the Canadian Reduced Gravity Experiment Design Challenge (CAN-RGX). The competition challenged post-secondary students attending Canadian universities and colleges to submit a proposal for a small scientific payload to be tested onboard the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Falcon 20 research aircraft, capable of simulating reduced gravity environments, similar to the International Space Station. 

“We are offering students a unique opportunity to get involved in the development of a scientific experiment and test it in a weightless environment, similar to that experienced by astronauts in orbit.” says Elias Solórzano, Chair of SEDS-Canada and graduate student at the University of Toronto. 

Two students per finalist team will get to fly onboard the aircraft as Mission Specialists to operate their experiments. Each flight will consist of at least 12 parabolic maneuvers to allow students to run their experiments and collect all the necessary data for subsequent analysis on the ground. With support from NRC and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and its sponsors MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates and Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum, CAN-RGX is the only competition of its kind in Canada.  

“The National Research Council of Canada is proud to be part of this extraordinary opportunity working with the student teams to realize their project plans in microgravity flight. NRC’s primary research aircraft, the Falcon 20, will help our next generation of researchers realize their future potential in the space sector” says Derek Gowanlock, Research Flight Test Engineer at the National Research Council of Canada.

The finalists include Team COSM (Carleton Off-planet Specialized Mining), of Carleton University, Project STARFOX (Spinning Terrestrial Analog Regolith Filtering Operation eXperiment), from The University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (USST), Team AVAIL (Analyzing Viscosity And Inertia in Liquids), of the University of Toronto, and Team iSSELab (interfacial Science and Surface Engineering Lab), of the University of Alberta. Team COSM’s project involves determining the effectiveness of different dust collection systems in reduced gravity, whose data they hope will be central to designing equipment for future space research that effectively deals with harmful dust contamination. Project STARFOX’s proposal aims to better understand the dynamics of mineral screening in a microgravity environment, through altering existing terrestrial techniques of mineral screening and separation. Team AVAIL’s proposal aims to study the effect of a reduced gravity environment on the behaviour of coiling liquids, which will improve our understanding of additive manufacturing in space. Their hypothesis is that the liquids will sustain a longer column before buckling. Team iSSELab intends on studying the effect of reduced gravity on 3D printing materials by observing alterations in the crystallization process in the reduced gravity environment. 

The four teams must now complete the next phase of their project, the Preliminary Design Review, due February 15th, which they will present to a panel of judges including experts in microgravity flight sciences from CAN-RGX’s collaborating agencies. After finalizing their designs, the teams will have six weeks to build their experiments in order to submit the next milestone, the Critical Design Review. The experiments will then be integrated into NRC’s Falcon 20 aircraft in preparation for the Flight Campaign scheduled for the first week of August 2017.

About SEDS-Canada

SEDS-Canada is a national, student-run, non-profit committed to supporting and empowering student space enthusiasts, advancing the Canadian space sector, and promoting the peaceful exploration and development of space. It is a chapter-based organization with 13 chapters at the University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, York University, Ryerson University, Queen's University, McGill University, University of Guelph, University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, McMaster University, University of Alberta, and Lisgar Collegiate Institute.

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Media Contacts:
Roxy Fournier
Project Manager, CAN-RGX
roxy.fournier@seds.ca
Tel: +1 (647) 648-2318

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