8 May 2023
VIENNA, 8 May (UN Information Service) — The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have announced the awardees for the second round of the Fellowship Programme on the Large Diameter Centrifuge Hypergravity Experiment Series (HyperGES). Teams from Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” of Bolivia and Macau University of Science and Technology of Macao, China, will have the opportunity to put their ideas to the test.
The projects of both teams are related to life sciences, a field that benefits immensely from augmented gravity conditions. The project of Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo”, proposed by an all-female team, will examine how hypergravity affects the break-up of human red blood cells to get a better understanding of anaemia in space. The team will also highlight the efforts of Bolivian women in the space field. Macau University of Science and Technology will analyse the medical and biotechnological potential of fungi for future space exploration. Both teams aim to generate knowledge and help create solutions for sustainable development and human well-being.
Delivered under the Hypergravity/Microgravity Track of the Access to Space for All initiative, HyperGES allows selected teams to conduct hypergravity experiments at the Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC) facility at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of ESA. The LDC provides a variety of acceleration values ranging from 1-20g, unlocking the possibility of a wide range of experiments.
Acting Director of UNOOSA Niklas Hedman said: “HyperGES is a rare and valuable opportunity for teams to learn about hypergravity. Both experiments will deepen scientific knowledge in the field of life science, which will generate interesting outputs related to space exploration. I would like to thank the continuous cooperation of ESA to offer access to this unique infrastructure and truly hope that both teams will build capacity and gain experience and knowledge through their participation.”
Head of ESA’s ESTEC establishment and Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality Dietmar Pilz said: “We’re grateful to UNOOSA for their work to widen access to our Large Diameter Centrifuge through the HyperGES fellowship for student teams worldwide. ESTEC is Europe’s centre of space research, equipped with more than 35 laboratories, including the LDC, which are traditionally available to European industry and academia as well as ESA projects. It is a good initiative to widen that access. The LDC has been in operation at ESTEC for more than 14 years now, but we are still scratching the surface of all the different kinds of hypergravity research that can be performed.”
Academic Director from Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” Dr. Yolanda Ferreira Arza said: “We are happy and proud that an idea that started as part of the cellular and molecular biology subject in the engineering department of our university is now becoming a research project at the international level. We thank UNOOSA and ESA for giving the opportunity to the team members to enrich themselves with the life experience of doing experiments at the international level. As a university, receiving these incentives shows us that we are going in the right pathway. This team is an example for other students, as it shows that science can be done from the early stages of their studies and that the youngest ones can also contribute to their careers, to the university and to the country.”
Associate Vice-President of Macau University of Science and Technology, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, and Chair Professor KeKe Zhang said: “It is an honour for our institution to have the project “HyperSpacEx – Medical and Biotechnological Potential of Fungi in Hypergravity for Space Exploration” awarded for the HyperGES. We are very grateful to UNOOSA and ESA for recognizing the potential of our team and the relevance of the proposed work. This opens up the opportunity to develop new approaches for using fungi to support space exploration while helping to establish and develop the field of astromycology. Future missions will certainly benefit from the results derived from this research.”
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For more information, please contact:
Access to Space for All initiative Team
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
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