In July, a team of eight Fresno State students went to the NASA to conduct an experiment in its Grant Us Space Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program.
The students departed to Houston, Texas, on July 5, where they trained for their weightless experiment.
“We were the only team there doing work at zero gravity,” said Mujahid Umar, a mechanical engineering major at Fresno State.
The team tested the formation of a substance called calcium oxalate in order to see how it reacts in a microgravity environment on NASA’s “Weightless Wonder”
aircraft. Calcium oxalate are sharp salt crystals found in plants and is also the major component of kidney stones.
The Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program gives undergraduate students the chance to offer ideas to NASA. The teams also build and fly in a reduced-gravity experiment.
Mujahhid Umar and the rest of the crew performing their
calcium oxalate experiment at zero gravity. The team was the
only one who experimented at zero-gravity on the trip, Umar said.
Photo courtesy of the team.
“The best part of the trip was being weightless. It is indescribable and such a natural
feeling,” said Gonzalo Leyva, an electrical engineering major. “It was the best decision I
have ever made.”
According to NASA’s website, astronauts are at risk for developing kidney stones because of the loss of bone calcium and decreased fluid intake. The kidney stones can form during or after the flight, and can pose serious consequences if not treated immediately.
“Mentoring and going with this group of students is something that most professors don’t get to do,” said Joy Goto, assistant professor for the chemistry department at Fresno
The team will evaluate their findings and provide the results to NASA at a meeting in November.