Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Students from the UAB and the UPC have been chosen to carry out a scientific experiment in microgravity with the ESA

26.01.2009
Sergi Vaquer, Doctor of Medicine from the UAB, and Arnau Rabadán, an industrial engineering student from the UPC, together with three teams from Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom, will participate in the ESA “Fly your Thesis!” program, an opportunity for PhD and master’s degree students from across Europe to design, build, and carry out a scientific experiment in microgravity.

In the final phase of the competition there were 16 research teams from different European universities who presented their projects at the ESA European Astronaut Centre, in Cologne (Germany), in December.

Next autumn the young researchers from the UAB and the UPC will participate in a campaign of three parabolic flights aboard the Airbus A300 ZERO-G that some astronauts use as part of their training. During the flights the aircraft accelerates as it gains altitude, then the engines are reduced to a minimum for 20 seconds while the plane traces a parabola in freefall.

For these 20 seconds, conditions close to zero gravity are attained within the cabin. These maneuvers are repeated up to 30 times during a flight, so that after completing the three flights in the campaign, the researchers will have had the opportunity to experiment with microgravity over a considerable amount of time.

The experiment is being coordinated by Sergi Vaquer and is called the ABCtr MicroG project. It will study the behavior of ABC transporters, biological agents that are responsible for removing drugs and other toxins from human cells, under microgravity conditions. For this purpose, the UPC and UAB researchers have developed a special protocol to enable the activity of these molecules to be measured very accurately during the 20 seconds of microgravity in each of the 30 parabolas on a parabolic flight. Arnau Rabadán is in charge of the technical part of the experiment that involves designing a mechanism to mix the biomedical fluid and the ABC transporters inside a syringe, activating the chemical reaction. All of this must be done at 37ºC, that is, human body temperature. After 20 seconds the system will introduce a liquid into the syringe to freeze the mixture so that it will not be affected by gravity and the experiment will be repeated in the next parabola.

The mechanism will be regulated by a control system, since the conditions for the experiment and the quantity of liquids to be injected must be precisely set. The control system includes active elements, such as the motor to drive the syringes, and also supervisory elements, such as the censors to regulate the temperature of the syringe where the mixing is done.

The engineering, production and flight preparation activities will be supervised by Felip Fenollosa, a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the UPC and co-director of the CIM Foundation. The CIM Foundation is a technological reference center of the UPC in the field of production technologies, and the design and building of the mechanism will now begin there. This will be based on a prototype of the equipment that was developed in 2008 at the CIM Foundation by Rosa Pàmies, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at the UPC.

Improving medical treatments
The results will be useful in improving medical treatments for astronauts but they will also assist with a better understanding of the biological agents involved in the assimilation of drugs in general and the action of the transporters in illnesses such as cancer and AIDS.

Sergi Vaquer has worked as a crew physician at the Crew Medical Support Office of the ESA European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, and is currently a resident physician at the Hospital Parc Taulí in Sabadell (associated with the UAB) and a researcher at the Municipal Medical Research Institute (IMIM) of the Hospital del Mar. Arnau Rabadán is studying the Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at the College of Industrial Engineering of Barcelona (EUETIB) of the UPC, and the scientific equipment for this experiment will be the subject of his final thesis. He is currently on a research scholarship from the CIM Foundation.

Other projects selected
The other projects selected by the ESA are Complex, presented by a team of four students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim (Norway), which will study the flow birefringence of a solution of clay particles in salty water, enabling them to better understand the self-organization of these small particles; the Dust Side of the Force presented by four students from the Institute of Planetology at the University of Münster (Germany), which aims to study greenhouse and thermophoretic effects, which can lift particles off the ground in low gravity conditions and are thought to be important in the formation of planets and the generation of dust storms on Mars; and AstEx, presented by two students from the Open University (United Kingdom) and from the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France), which will investigate the behavior of a granular material under shear stress, with the possibility of using the results in the design of future missions to collect samples from asteroids.

Rossy Laciana | alfa
Further information:
http://www.upc.edu
http://www.upc.edu/saladepremsa

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>