SpaceX halted the countdown of the launch of its rocket at the last moment owing to a misbehaving actuator. The abort not only delayed resupplies to the International Space Station (ISS), but also a student science project by British Columbia students.
Four boys from McGowan Park Elementary School in Kamloops, British Columbia had won a contest to have their project sent over to the ISS along with 17 other student projects which are part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program run by Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education. The project was already delayed once owing to the explosion of the rocket on previous launch attempt on October 28.
The project is all about crystals and how zero-gravity affects the growth of crystals. In the project, students have prepared silicon tubes containing solutions, which when mixed will cause crystals to form. The solutions are kept apart using small clips.
“For our project we want to learn how microgravity affects the growth of crystals”, reads the project description. “We believe this is important because we can learn more about how fluids act and how crystals (precipitates) form in microgravity.”
“The advantage of understanding if a solid has a different structure in microgravity would be that we could create solids with different properties and be able to make unique materials. It may also help us to move forward with a better understanding of how fluid mixing and crystal formation work in space”, reads the project description further.
Once aboard the ISS, Astronauts would remove the small clips and when the tubes will be returned to the students, they will analyse the formation of crystals on ISS and compare them with those grown on Earth.