Space Center University and educators from across the country study atmosphere in Houston

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ANGLETON, Texas — Just at the edge of space, the upper layers of our atmosphere are generally unexplored.

Space Center Houston and educators from across the country, join together Thursday for the center’s Atmospheric Research Program.

A weather balloon carries each teacher’s test subject up into space.

They’re testing the effects of cosmic radiation and other high-altitude conditions have on items carried up, up, and away! As compared to their counterparts kept down here on Earth. Test subjects like hot dogs and slime.

“We have a couple predictions; for one, I think my slime is going to expand,” educator Amy Fetterhoff said. “[As] for the hot dog, we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen with that, but we definitely think things are going to be expanding up there.”

Professor Mary Vaughn sent up seeds ready to be planted.

“We’re going to be germinating them here on Earth. We’re going to compare those that went up into space and those that are here on Earth and the differences between them,” Vaughn said.

Back at mission control, the team monitors the balloons path and speed.

However, there was a slight deviation from the plan as the teams headed out for retrieval.

“Predictions showed it going a little bit further south and west, landing in a nice farm field,” Kaci Heins said. “Things don’t always go as you plan, that’s part of the adventure in a high altitude balloon launch! Our landing site wasn’t what we completely predicted, we’ve got a lot of trees and some private property, so we’re working with the local folks help us to gain access to that.”

The search is on, because when the teachers retrieve the payload, the test materials are on their way back to classrooms across the country for study this fall.

From the edge of space to the classroom, Space Center Houston has tomorrow’s scientists shooting for the stars.



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