An experiment created by Michigan high school students will be conducted by astronauts at the International Space Station — and it has the potential to assist in future space missions.
The experiment by freshmen Hattie Holmes, Langley Nelson, Kale Cerny and Lainey Wickman is the third by Traverse City West Senior High School students to be chosen for NASA's international "Student Spaceflight Experiments Program," WWTV-TV reported.
In the experiment, "The Growth of Bacillus Subtilis on a Substrata Material in Microgravity," bacteria are grown on silicon to create energy or oxygen that could be used to recycle water during long-distance space travel, The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.
The group began working on the idea in October.
"The first thing we thought of was: 'What would be good? What would be a good outcome? What is something we could work toward? What is something that could help space missions?'" Nelson said.
Holmes, Nelson, Cerny and Wickman have been working with NASA officials to ensure the experiment meets the program's guidelines and safety precautions.
"You grow up as a kid thinking that NASA is at the top of the line of science," Cerny said, "and now — as freshmen — we're communicating with them. It's really awesome."
The experiments will be launched into space in late spring or early summer. Students will simultaneously conduct research on Earth, which will act as a control experiment, said Patrick Gillespie, a West science teacher.
"It's a fantastic experience," Gillespie said. "To watch your experiment go to the International Space Station in a rocket is just amazing."