YuriGagarin50 UK/Russian Microgravity Experiment

microgravity_experimentTo mark the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's orbit and celebrate the outstanding achievement of the first human spaceflight, YuriGagarin50 is setting up an initiative to develop a joint UK-Russian microgravity experiment. The project will start in April 2011 and continue into the future, bringing together UK and Russian space scientists, engineers and cosmonauts to:

• Communicate the significance of Gagarin’s 1961 spaceflight to the general public
• Establish UK-Russian links in human spaceflight and microgravity science research as a “seed corn” for the future
• Nurture and encourage the next generation of students in STEM subjects to support both the UK and Russia’s future in science and technology
• Undertake useful and meaningful joint science research, via International Space Station (ISS) facilities and UK/Russian scientists, engineers and cosmonauts
• Provide a lasting legacy for the YuriGagarin50 celebration event .

 During late 2010 and early 2011, UK and Russian space science groups will come together and plan an experiment proposal in a field of microgravity research. This process will link-up Roscosmos, the YuriGagarin50 organising group, UK-Russian space and biomedical scientists and engineers, the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) and Institute for Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow, University College London, plus the ISS operators and the European Space Agency (ESA).

 Their objectives will be to:
• Provide a UK-Russian experiment that can be commenced and operated on the ISS from April 2011,via cosmonaut support
• Prepare and establish outreach student activities that can associate with the experiment as an on-going part of the experiment
• Continue the experiment work and allow for its expansion from this “seed corn” precursor approach beyond 2011.

Key contacts:

YG-50 group: Dr. Chris Welch, Chair YG-50: c.welch[AT]yurigagarin50.org
YG-50 experiment group coordinators: Nick Spall nspall[AT]googlemail.com, (tel 07931 740310) and Dr. Anna Clark – anna.clark[AT]ucl.ac.uk (tel 0207 679 9822).


For Schools

YG50-muDEX: microgravity Dripping Educational eXperiment

As part of the UK celebration of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space Dr.Barnaby Osborne (Kingston University, London) is working on an educational experiment to be performed on-board the International Space Station (ISS) and in classrooms (in the UK and potentially in Europe and Russia).  This project will primarily seek to emphasise and encourage interest and further study in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related subjects and will be targeted at school children between the ages of 12 and 18. 


For this project, an experiment is being developed that can be conducted on board the ISS, YG50-muDEX-S (S for space), and also in a classroom, YG50-muDEX-G (G for ground) that will examine the breakup of a liquid jet in reduced gravity.  The microgravity experiment produces a flow regime similar to a dripping tap in normal gravity.  This phenomenon demonstrates the weak forces of surface tension and chaotic behaviour. It is a visual demonstration of how physical systems can be very different in a weightless environment.  An experiment pack will be made available for distribution to teachers, allowing the recreation of the phenomena in the classroom using a ‘drop test’. Student participation will be through hands-on experience with the classroom experiment and through a video of a cosmonaut/astronaut on-board the ISS performing the experiment and talking through the scientific principles behind it.  Results from the two will be able to be compared and discussed.


The YG50-muDEX project has the support of both Roscosmos and the UK Space Agency (Protocol signed Dec 2010) and will feature as one of the key projects of the Russian-UK year of space being announced in Feb 2011

Key contacts:

Dr.Barnaby Osborne - B.Osborne[AT]kingston.ac.uk


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