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Sophomores’ science experiment set for launch to International Space Station

This week, two sophomores in Fayette County Public Schools will see the culmination of nearly a year’s efforts as their science experiment launches to the International Space Station (ISS). Kiera Fehr of Henry Clay High School and Rosalie Huff of Frederick Douglass High School, along with three Chicago-area students, are studying the effects of microgravity on methane-producing termites. 

Team V Atlas won a fall 2019 STEM challenge conducted by the nonprofit Higher Orbits. They subsequently paired with another Illinois group studying how microgravity affects moth chrysalis formation, and both experiments are housed in one 4-inch cube laboratory called BUG-01. The mini lab will travel from Virginia’s Wallops Flight Facility to the ISS aboard the Cygnus spacecraft atop the Northrop Grumman Antares launch vehicle. Weather permitting, the NG-14 resupply mission will launch at 9:16 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2; watch it live on NASA TV.

Kiera and Rosalie’s team hypothesizes the southeastern drywood termites will experience stress transitioning to microgravity, but within an adjustment time, normal behavior such as eating and tunneling habits will resume. Team V Atlas will evaluate their experiment results in the coming months. Understanding microgravity’s effects could improve knowledge of complex biological systems for future space missions.

Higher Orbits is an educational nonprofit 501c3 that uses space to promote STEM, leadership, teamwork, and communication at Go For Launch! events nationwide. For more information, visit the Higher Orbits website, email Michelle Lucas, or call (281) 451-5343. 

Background: FCPS posted a feature article about Kiera and Rosalie in January. Note that the launch subsequently moved from Cape Canaveral to Virginia.

(Updated Oct. 2, 2020)