Berkeley Students Continue to Study the Impact of Life in Space
Tom Spendlove posted on April 25, 2018 | | 1366 views

The Space Technologies at Cal (STAC) group at UC Berkeley wants to make progress on space research and the space industry. Their website explicitly states “we are not a typical engineering club that focuses on a set competition but rather we focus on making strides in innovating space technologies.” To help fund upcoming 2018 space activities the group is running a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign focuses on their Researching the Impact of Life in Space activities, primarily the High Altitude Balloon and Microgravity Programs.

The High Altitude Balloon (HAB) program’s goal is the creation of a standard balloon payload big enough to fit any of the group’s experiments inside. Partners are NASA Ames, NASA JPL, Berkeley Research Labs, and Berkeley National Labs. HAB-I was launched on March 4 to an altitude of 102,000 feet and a flight time of three minutes eighteen seconds. HAB-II is scheduled for launch on April 28.

The Microgravity program centers around payloads with experiments for rockets to carry into space. Long term goal is annual launches of standardized STAC payloads to track life in space. The Interstellar Microgravity Experiments (TIME) will track lifeforms, optics and physical mechanics of organisms in space. Major experiment subjects currently include roundworms suspended into an immobile state and then reanimated once they reach space. STAC recently won the DENT:SPACE competition and secured a spot for their payloads on upcoming Blue Origin rocket launches.

Other projects for the group include laser ablation of asteroid experiments, CubeSat deployment, an AI rover, and the Smart Extraterrestrial Environment Design (SEED) biosphere. STAC is an impressive group of student researchers all working to disrupt our current idea of what space and space exploration can be. It’s interesting to see not just the depth of their experiments but also the wide array of different areas where they’re currently working, and the large number of partners and resources available to these students for their wildly ambitious goals. Their upcoming 2018 Space Tech Symposium takes place on April 30, 2018 and this crowdfunding campaign ends on May 17, 2018.

(Images courtesy of the Space Technologies at Cal group)

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