Endeavour Carries Student Experiments Into Space

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They have special interest in the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour that lifted off Monday. On board the shuttle are experiments from two Omaha high schools. The young scientists from Omaha North said the launch may signal the end of their high school careers but it opens up a whole new world.

Heaven-bound, the space shuttle Endeavour carries the dreams of the next generation of scientists, including experiments from nearly 100 high schools nationwide.

On board is an entry from four seniors at Omaha North.

The four young scientists want to know how micro gravity affects
the human immune system, so a vial containing a sample of human tears is heading to space.

"It's kind of a relief just knowing its not going to be delayed any more."

Dan Bergdorf said the experiment is necessary for continued exploration.

"If we're going to keep sending people in to space we need to know how its going to affect their immune systems so we can keep them healthy while they're there," Bergdorf said.

"This is super cool...nerds like us dream about stuff like this," David Smiley said. He believes the experiment could help future travelers whether the results are favorable or not..

"When it gets back then there would be applications for that if the astronauts are being exposed to something they shouldn't be," he said.

Jessica Powell has been involved in science fairs the past six years. She said the results could yield wide-ranging benefits right here on earth.

"You could manufacture goods in micro gravity so if we find that greater properties and they stick because we think it might deteriorate as it gets back in to earth's gravity but you could produce better medicines that way," she said.

Powell believes the experience is training her for conducting research in the future. "This as a great segue into what I want to do for the rest of my life," she said.

Jesse Epperson agrees.

"Today was the culmination of the last two months waiting for this thing to go off," he said.

Epperson believes the experience gained through the experiment provides a spring board for the future.

"It's something I can say I've had experience with," he said. I've worked with people in the labs at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at North, just talked to people and gotten a feel for how science really works."

The experience provided the allure and was successful at attracting young scientists to the final frontier.

Omaha Burke High sophomore Aaron Zipursky also had an experiment on board.

He wants to find out if honey can protect an egg white and yolk from bacteria in space.

The students should have their samples back for analysis in early June and hopefully publish their results in scientific journals.