Katowice boffins come first in space balloon comp

The special capsules will carry materials into space for experimentation. Unibot - konstruujemy i programujemy roboty/Facebook

Scientists in Katowice have taken first place in the Global Space Balloon Challenge, 2019.

The Katowice researchers from the University of Silesia’s Biology and Environmental Protection Faculty walked away with the Best Initiative award for their PAMELA project which saw them create a special capsule for carrying materials that are being used for experimentation.

With the space tourism on our doorsteps, scientists are focusing on how to transport life-essential products safely.NASA/Wallops BPO

An acronym for Plant, Aranae and Microorganisms Exposure to the Light Activity in Near-Space Environment, the materials onboard PAMELA include barley seedlings, two spider species, microorganisms and new materials, such as the ones used for space antennas or astronauts suits, and was designed in cooperation with the Analog Astronaut Training Center in Kraków and Astronika, the Polish company specializing in space engineering (one of their instruments is currently taking part in NASA’s Mars mission).

The educational programme for space biology and medicine is crucial for the development of safe human spaceflight and tourism.

Two of the winning space capsules nicknamed ‘ants’.Unibot - konstruujemy i programujemy roboty/Facebook

Describing the project, the scientists wrote: “In a few years we will develop cheap flights to space, we will start colonisation of the Moon, we will travel for holidays to “USS-Enterprise" - like destinations on the orbit.

“Amazing future BUT...we have to create a proper cadre of well-educated people, who can transform dreams of our civilisation into prospering and safe reality.”

As a result of three PAMELA flight missions planned for this year, the creators hope to publish at least four scientific papers, but also involve high school and university students, as well as other scientists, who can propose experiments of their own.

The winning space capsules can be attached to stratospheric balloons to research what impact the environment in space has on biological materials. (Image: illustration)NASA

The GSBC, organized annually by the Stanford Space Initiative, gathers teams conducting stratospheric balloon science experiments. GSBC serves primarily to popularize the science and inspiration of future generations of scientists and engineers.

It is the biggest competition of its kind with 400 teams from 60 countries competing this year.

To read more about Polish space missions by Astronika click here.