Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Experiments that survived

May 7, 2003

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— Some scientific experiments that survived the breakup of space shuttle Columbia appear to have some useful data, including one that could lead to anticancer drugs, scientists said Tuesday.

Five of nine experiments from a 6 1/2-inch wide, 11-inch long aluminum hardware device that was found three months ago in the shuttle debris appear to be able to yield data, according to scientists who jus this week began opening containers holding shuttle experiments at the Kennedy Space Center.

Scientifically, the most promising experiment of the nine was one developed by NASA investigator Dennis Morrison. The experiment manufactured capsules containing anticancer drugs that can be delivered directly to a tumor instead of the whole body.

Other experiments include a biofilm project conceived by a Palestinian biology student and an Israeli medical student. Another is a tin crystal experiment by a Florida middle school whose students held a spaghetti dinner and donated their pennies to raise the $5,000 needed to pay for their project's placement on the shuttle.

Columbia's seven crew members were killed when the shuttle fell apart as it was re-entering the atmosphere. The shuttle contained dozens of scientific experiments, many of them belonging to students.

Experiments that the scientists are hopeful will yield data include a study of a protein crystal that could be used for developing a drug to fight cancer, a prep school project that studied the effect of zero-gravity on bacteria and a slime mold experiment from Southwest Texas State University.

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