With a very unique payload designed to open up in the stratosphere to study the affect of exposure to the stratosphere on microorganisms and biomolecules, team Zenith of Brazil has won 2nd place in the Best Science Experiment Category.
Link to report: here
From the team: "The idea of working in the space was born when the Me. Lucas Fonseca, member of the Rosetta mission of ESA (European Space Agency) and former student of Mechatronics Engineering at EESC presented the CubeSat platform, a nanosatellites class, pointing several reasons found feasible to develop the university. He brought a theme of lunar exploration as a major challenge for the team. With the sympathy of some students the Zenith group was formed in mid-2013.
At its inception, the group has focused on basic training in the space, regular meetings with Lucas, who discussed the technologies currently employed, through some of his work experience in the European Space Agencies. Also, there was a job to find missions and interested in working with the group in carrying out scientific projects.
In mid-2014, through communication with two researchers at the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS), a partnership was formed to conduct an experiment at high altitude, thereby designating the Zenith-USP for the development of the flight deck experiment.
A high-altitude balloon was launched on May 14th of 2016 from São Carlos, state of São Paulo – Brazil. The balloon gondola, named Garatéa, was designed and built by the Zenith group of engineer students of the University of São Paulo (EESC - USP). It carried a system to expose an experiment consisted in some samples of extremophiles microorganisms and biomolecules to the stratosphere conditions for about 2 hours, collecting environmental information throughout the flight. The experiment was conducted by Douglas Galante - Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) researcher - and by Fabio Rodrigues – Researcher and professor at the Institute of Chemistry, IQ USP – and by AstroLab (an USP astrobiology researchers team) members The main goal of this experiment was to probe the resilience of the microorganisms themselves, as well as the detectability of molecular biomarkers after an exposition to the stratospheric conditions. For this first flight, the gondola was retrieved and the samples were analyzed in laboratory, but future experiments are already being planned with in situ and in real time experiments."