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University of Maryland Students Send Bacteria to Space

The UMDbacteria samples will launch from earth to the International Space Station in April. (Photo, ABC7)

An experiment that started inside a University of Maryland lab will extend all the way to space.

"The idea that we might have something we designed or made go up to the International Space Station is pretty humbling and incredible for us," says Yaniv Kazansky, a 22-year-old senior.

The opportunity comes through the Student Spaceflight Experiments program. Young people from fifth grade to college submitted ideas including three University of Maryland students who now make up the only university team selected. Their goal is to understand the effects of microgravity on bacteria development. 22-year-old Aaron Solomon explained, "If we're going to be out in space for long periods of time, without any access to medical care, it's really important that, you know, we don't have these infections cropping up that we can't treat."

Kazansky added, "We're going to compare any differences between the genes turned on in space and the genes turned on on earth."

The bacteria samples will launch from earth to the International Space Station in April. Once the space experiment is complete, the samples will return to Maryland for further analysis.

Kazansky explained the possible long term impact. "If we find evidence that bacteria are more dangerous, we can perhaps design therapies that target that gene," he said.

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