Local students' micro-experiment heading to International Space Station in March

Alum crystal project by Patrick Henry HS students

SAN DIEGO - In a few months, a project by some San Diego high school students will be onboard the International Space Station.

The ISS stretches the length of a football field and orbits 220 miles above the earth's surface. Humans have been living inside the ISS for 12 years and at times conducting experiments.

"We're growing alum, which is what they use to keep pickles crisp and they also use it in deodorants," said student Kalee DeHamer, a junior at Patrick Henry High School in Del Cerro.

The crystals will grow on a 2-inch wide, 2-inch high and 4-inch long board. The students will receive real-time data and watch the crystals grow with a little camera they are installing.

They will study how microgravity acts on alum crystals in space for a few reasons.       

"If we could go more pure medicines with less impurities – like less contaminants and what not – then essentially we could make the dose smaller and more effective," said DeHamer.

But that is not all.

"We hope that we can use it to make more efficient solar cells for solar panels," added DeHamer.

Nina Tabrizi, a freshman at Patrick Henry High School, handled the mechanical engineering side of the experiment.

"I needed to make sure everything fit, and I also needed to make sure that everything would stay put," she said.

The students have until January to finish the micro-lab. Then, they will take it to San Jose to make sure that it is compatible with other micro-labs from other schools in the state.

On March 1, the projects will go up into space to the ISS. They will stay in space for 30 days and then return to the students on earth.

"You're never going to get this chance again and you're sending something into space… that's amazing," said DeHamer.

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