UF/IFAS, Krasnoyarsk and NASA share research in videoconference

UF/IFAS shared its space-related research with the Kennedy Space Center and Krasnoyarsk State University through a videoconferencing program that brought leading scientists from the three institutions together in a virtual conference room.

Anna-Lisa Paul, Valentina Kratasyuk and Ray Bucklin discuss space-related research at videoconference for Space Day
Anna-Lisa Paul, Valentina Kratasyuk and Ray Bucklin discuss space-related research at videoconference for Space Day

The event April 12, Space Day, coincided with the anniversary of the first trip to space in 1961 by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

More than 40 years later, results from research in agriculture and biological systems has been integrated into space travel, and space technology plays a role in natural resource management and protection. Researchers from UF/IFAS, Krasnoyarsk and the Kennedy Space Center discussed their research and expressed the need for further cooperation. From the American side, the videoconference was hosted by the Office of Academic Technology of the University of Florida, from the Russian side facilities were provided by the Centre the Internet of Krasnoyarsk state university.

UF/IFAS has longstanding collaborations with the Kennedy Space Center. UF/IFAS and Krasnoyarsk State University are linked through the visit of Valentina Kratasyuk to UF/IFAS on a Fulbright Scholarship. Kratasyuk and her sponsoring faculty member, Ray Bucklin in agricultural and biological engineering, joined UF/IFAS horticultural science researcher Anna-Lisa Paul in discussing UF/IFAS involvement in space-related research.

Paul introduced the faculty working in the Center Exploration of Life Sciences, called ExLS, a UF/IFAS research center that collaborates with NASAs Space Life Sciences Laboratory at the Kennedy Space Center.

Agricultural research at the UF/IFAS lab has focused on space agriculture, which deals with issues similar to those on earth, including food production to support a population, Paul said.

Researchers are studying interplanetary astrobiology, Mars biology, low-pressure engineering and low-pressure plant biology. By simulating conditions on Mars, they are developing plans for greenhouse production of plants. Through simulation of space conditions, they are studying the potential for bacterial spores to migrate from one planet to another, Paul said.

NASA relies on UF/IFAS for research in these fields, said Kennedy Space Centers Aaron Mills.

Mills is NASA chief scientist at Kennedy Space Center and is project scientist for water recovery as well as other projects. Biological processes can be incorporated into space flight as a positive alternative to physical processes in food production, carbon dioxide removal and oxygen production. The biological systems have been developed and proven over millions of years and need only adaptation to function in a space environment, he said.

Another role of the Kennedy Space Center is the management of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Preserve.

The Krasnoyarsk State University has been one of Russias centers of space research, with extensive research on techniques for supporting populations in space a topic of great interest to NASA. In Krasnoyarsk there is a good base of knowledge for systems for removal and tracking the movement of polluting substances and a chlorophyll on oceans. Movement of chlorophyll parallels the movement of carbon through the Earths ecosystem, professor A.P.Shevyrnogov from Krasnoyarsk noted in his presentation.

Through this program, Russian scientists, joined by scientists throughout Europe, are able to monitor the movements of pollutants in lakes and coastal areas and to assess environmental damage. This program is of interest to the Kennedy Space Center, which also monitors the environmental quality of the wildlife preserve.

Also present from the Krasnoyarsk university at the conference were the rector of Krasnoyarsk state university A.S.Provorov who presented the activities of the university as a whole; the first vice-rector of university V.A.Sapozhnikov; vice-rector J.J.Loginov, who is engaged in research dealing with physical reliability of space vehicles, the vice-mayor of Krasnoyarsk professor V.V.Kuimov, who discussed the program Space Odisseya, directed toward development of interest by the youth of the city in space research; professor L.V.Granitsky, co-head of many programs in space research.

The videoconference is part of an educational proposal to increase the exchange of people and information among the Kennedy Space Center, UF/IFAS and Krasnoyarsk State University.

Each summer, NASA holds the Spaceflight and Life Sciences Training Program, an intense, academically challenging, six-week summer program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This program is for undergraduate college students interested in learning about space biology, space biotechnology as well as ecology. This year, the first international videoconference is planned among students at the NASA program, students of Aerospace Academy in Krasnoyarsk and Krasnoyarsk State University, Russia, UF and University of North Dakota. The theme of the videoconference will be Space Science Collaboration and Exploration.

I hope this is the first step of our educational proposal Science and Education through Videoconferencing, Kratasyuk stated in closing the conference. As you know, we are preparing this proposal with the participation of all of us, and we plan to have videoconferences on different topics not only space biotechnology but biophysics, language teaching, Russian culture and others.

Ray Bucklin

: http://international.ifas.ufl.edu/focus_newsletters/2005/april/research-share-video.shtml