CASIS Awards Microgravity Experiments

casis_new_logoKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., October 14, 2013 (CASIS PR) – The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced the winners from the crowdsourcing contest “What Would You Send to the ISS?” This contest was designed to stimulate public interest in the space station by soliciting ideas from the public to innovatively use the station’s National Lab for terrestrial benefit.

CASIS routinely develops Requests for Proposals (RFP) based on input from its Science & Technology Advisory Board and staff, pointing to trends in modern research that might be plausible to explore on the National Lab. Through the winning solicited ideas from its crowdsourcing contest, CASIS hopes to build additional RFPs in the areas of life sciences, physical sciences, Earth observation and technology development that have not previously been identified by staff, further expanding and diversifying the National Lab research portfolio.

The contest ran from August 19 through September 16, receiving overwhelming response from the public at large. Additionally, CASIS involved public participation in the voting process to determine winners along with votes from the CASIS Science & Technology Advisory Board.

Grand prize winner:

Elizabeth MacDonald – Real-time Auroral Imaging on the ISS

Elizabeth is interested in conveying the beauty of science from space. Her idea is to fly a geo-tagged video camera to the International Space Station to capture the northern and southern lights in real time. Captured images can be displayed on the Aurorasaurus website, which includes a real time map tracking Earth observations of the auroras via various sources—including social media. In addition to improving this online platform, images of the northern and southern lights from ISS can be used as data to improve space weather forecasting and to better understand auroral behavior.

Runners up:

Chun-Ti Chang – Testing the ‘Atomic Spectra’ Of Excited Sessile Drops

This entry suggests using microgravity to better understand movement within fluid droplets as it relates to Earth-based 3-D printing, personalized medicine and microelectronic circuits for semiconductors. Larger fluid droplets can be made in microgravity and analyzed to yield higher resolution data.

James Goodman – An ISS CubeSat Laboratory Using Arduinos and 3D Printing

This idea seeks to improve the small satellite capabilities of the ISS National Lab by on-orbit manufacturing of CubeSats. By combining 3-D printing and Arduino technology (small microcontrollers used in electronics) in space, the ISS can be a manufacturing platform. This could be particularly useful for improving response to time-critical events, such as satellite imaging of natural disasters.

Khalid Marhlaoui – Materials Melting in Microgravity+Vacuum

This entry suggests improving materials science capabilities on the ISS National Lab by sending metal-melting furnace hardware to space. This could help in the analysis of existing functional materials and the discovery of new alloys for Earth applications.

Jonathan Morris – Impact of Space on Commensal Microbiota and Host Response

This entry suggests studying commensal (“healthy”) bacteria in space. Since microgravity alters the way bacteria grow and interact with each other and their human hosts, studies of these bacteria in space will inform us about human health and diseases like diabetes and Crohn’s disease on Earth.

Elizabeth McDonald, the grand prize winner, will receive $10,000 and a trip to Florida to witness CASIS payloads launching to the ISS. She will also have the opportunity to meet with CASIS staff on potentially converting her research ideas into a National Lab project or projects. Each runner up will receive $5,000.

“I am very excited to have won and grateful to CASIS for this amazing opportunity,” said grand prize winner Elizabeth McDonald. “The Aurorasaurus citizen science project aims to connect observers of the northern lights in real-time using social media, allowing more people opportunities to see their extraordinary beauty. Incorporating observations from the orbiting space station will be a unique vantage point and tremendous resource for our growing community.”

CASIS evaluates unsolicited proposals on a regular basis for scientific and economic merit and potential impact. In some instances, CASIS can provide funding to assist highly qualified research to be performed on the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

For additional information about unsolicited proposals, including instructions on submitting research ideas, please visit: