Four Thai students had a rare chance to conduct an experiment in a simulated zero-gravity environment in Japan to prove if they could raise algae in space.
Four Thai science students prepare experiments on algae movements in a zerogravity environmenton board a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency parabolic flight in Nagoya. They aim to find out if Chlamydomonas reinhardtiicanberaised andturned intoasource of food and hydrogen at a space station. PHOTOCOURTESYOF THE NATIONAL SCIENCEAND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTAGENCY
They want to test a theory that a single-cell green algae about 10 micrometres in diameter moves towards light as it usually does when on Earth.
If their theory proves to be correct, it could pave the way for the algae to be raised as a source of food and hydrogen in space.
The students, Wannida Saetang, Noppol Thaweesuk, Uthen Archathongsuk and Narinthadech Charoensombat, were part of a programme arranged by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).
They were in Nagoya from Dec 23-31 to carry out their tests on board parabolic flights arranged by Jaxa for its 7th Student Zero-Gravity Flight Experiment Contest.
If the group's hypothesis proves correct, the algae could be raised in a space station in a further trial to see if it could be turned into a source of food and hydrogen in space, Ms Wannida, a second-year science student at Chulalongkorn University, said. Each parabolic flight generated a zero-gravity environment which lasted only about 20 seconds.
The team had to design a trial that could be completed in that time, Mr Noppol, a first-year science student at the same university, said.
The team was given 10 rounds of zero-gravity generation per day for two days.
Observing the algae's movements through a microscope for 20 seconds in zero gravity was also a challenge, Mr Noppol said.
The team is still processing the data collected from the zero-gravity flights in Japan. The students have yet to conclude whether their hypothesis about the algae movements was correct.