Monday, July 31, 2017 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm
3106 J.M. Patterson Building


Four UMD Scientific Experiments Will Fly to the International Space Station in August
Media invited to meet students and faculty members involved in these projects

The University of Maryland invites reporters to College Park on July 31, 2017, from 3 to 5 p.m., for a press briefing and lab tours with research teams that will send four scientific projects to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX-12 Dragon capsule scheduled for launch on August 10, 2017, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Members of the media will have the opportunity to interview student and faculty researchers about projects on cosmic rays, critical bacteria and fire protection.

In addition, reporters can interview members of a UMD student team whose experiment to study the genetics of bacterial growth in space returned to Earth from the ISS earlier this month. (B-roll is available at for this project, which is part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.) 

Finally, UMD Physics Professor Emeritus Douglas Currie will be available to speak about a sixth UMD project that is anticipated to be flown to the moon before the end of the year. A new set of lunar laser ranging arrays will be used to test principles of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, add to international scientific knowledge of the moon and increase lunar mapping accuracy. Moon Express, the first private company to receive approval to land on the moon, is expected to deliver the arrays. 

UMD Experiments Flying to the ISS in August

Biofilm Project
Two UMD undergraduates—bioengineering major Stacey Mannuel and physics and chemistry double degree candidate Colton Treadway—will explore the effect of microgravity on biofilms, which are slimy layers of bacteria that adhere to each other and to virtually any surface. Biofilms show much greater tolerance to antibiotics than individual bacteria and are associated with bacterial infections that can lead to death. Previous research has also shown that biofilms grow more readily in microgravity, which might enable enhanced antimicrobial treatment opportunities.

The students will send to the ISS a multi-chamber tube containing bacteria, a growth medium and a wafer comprised of tin-based and platinum-based silicone. Their experiment will test the performance of the antimicrobial properties of platinum-based silicone, which is commonly used to reduce biofilm formation on Earth, under the microgravity conditions of space. The students hope their experiment will help advance scientists’ understanding of how biofilms grow and allow them to identify possible techniques for reducing biofilm formation. Their research could have implications for health care on Earth and in space.

This investigation is part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 11 to ISS America payload of experiments aboard SpaceX CRS-12. SSEP is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the ISS as a National Laboratory.

ISS-CREAM Cosmic Ray Research
UMD Physics Professor Eun-Suk Seo and her research team will launch to the ISS instruments they designed and built to detect cosmic rays—high-energy particles that bombard Earth from beyond our solar system. Following seven successful large-scale experiments using similar equipment on high-altitude balloons in Antarctica, Seo and her team will use their three-year ISS-CREAM (Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass) mission to observe incoming cosmic rays, unimpeded by atmospheric interference.

Back on Earth, Seo’s team will monitor operations around the clock, taking shifts to ensure the instruments are properly calibrated and collecting the maximum amount of data. Scientists believe cosmic ray particles could help solve one of today’s most elusive scientific puzzles: determining the nature of dark matter. Read more about this ongoing project aimed at answering the century-old space mystery of what gives cosmic rays such incredible energy, and what that can tell us about the universe in The Washington Post Magazine.

Fire Protection in Space
UMD Fire Protection Engineering researchers Peter Sunderland, James Quintiere, Akshit Markan and Zhengyang Wang will send equipment to support two experiments that traveled to the ISS on June 3, 2017. The experiments will measure the flammability of liquids and solids in microgravity and advance understanding and control of pollutants—such as soot—in space and on Earth. The team will use the data they collect to drive spacecraft fire protection policy and technology. Their experiments, which will be performed on the ISS in 2019 and 2020, are funded by NASA’s Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME) program. 

WHEN: Monday, July 31, 2017, from 3-5 p.m.

WHERE: University of Maryland, College Park

To confirm attendance, please contact Abby Robinson at or 301-405-5845.