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Students Set to Conduct Experiments in Glider Flying on Edge of Space

30869_PerlanFirstFlight9-23-15_7527B_h-crop_sm.jpgTen teams of students will run experiments from a glider that reaches the edge of outer space as part of a program by the nonprofit Teachers In Space.

The young people, from Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York, Oregon, and Puerto Rico, will capture gases from the stratosphere and run experiments on a two-person glider that will travel to 90,000 feet. The glider has no engine—it is carried by wind currents.  

The teams won the Airbus Perlan Mission II CubeSat Flight Experiment contest, which asked students to come up with experiments to run from the glider. 

The winning teams proposed projects that ranged from exploring whether moss could be grown on Mars, where the atmosphere is similar to the Earth's at 90,000 feet; examining greenhouse gases; and studying marshmallows in space. (That last project was proposed by a class of 3-to-6 year olds in Oregon.)

The program is part of a collaboration between Teachers In Space, the aeronautics company Airbus, and Airbus Perlan Mission II, an effort to send an engineless glider to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere.

Teachers In Space was originally a NASA program. It was canceled in the wake of the Challenger disaster, and later revived as an independent organization in 2005.  

Photo: The Airbus Perlan Mission II project will carry student experiments from Teachers in Space, Inc. into the stratosphere on the Perlan 2 glider, which is carried aloft by mountain air currents. Photo by James Darcy/Airbus Group.

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