UF Plant Experiment Flies on Virgin Galactic Spaceship (UF News)

UF Plant Experiment Flies on Virgin Galactic Spaceship

While most of the attention during the July 11 launch of Virgin Galactic’s Unity spaceship was on billionaire company founder Richard Branson, University of Florida researchers Anna-Lisa Paul and Rob Ferl were focused on some other passengers – three small tubes of experimental plants. 

The UF project, funded by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, was the only science experiment on the mission, meant to study the impact the transition to and from zero gravity has on gene expression in cells, and, more broadly, to develop protocols for “human-tended” suborbital flights. 

“Although changes in gene expression are well characterized between orbital space (like the ISS) and on Earth, no science has yet been done to capture changes in gene expression during the transition to and from sustained microgravity,” said Paul. “This was a first-of-its-kind experiment that will reveal new insights into how terrestrial organisms perceive the transition into the novel environment of space.” 

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