Space travel has fascinated us all for decades. Hollywood puts out blockbuster after blockbuster on the topic and we all have a favorite, be it fiction or non-fiction. Imagine being so mesmerized by the thought of reaching the next limit, that you turn it into a career.
A group of students at Aims are doing just that. Students in EGG 151 (Intro to Experimental Design and Engineering) are working on a project to help answer questions on how human life can survive on Mars.
Traveling to Mars has been an active conversation recently among NASA and other scientific groups. Their goal is to send a human on the nearly 40-million-mile journey sometime in the next 20 years. When we land, how can we utilize a volatile atmosphere to benefit human-kind?
And that is what Aims EGG 151 are working hard to solve. They have been challenged by a statewide program, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC), in conjunction with NASA, to work on an Exoplanet Ag Project. More specifically, they want to determine a successful way to grow hemp oil in Martian soil, called regolith.
“The students came up with the project specifics,” said Lee McMains, professor and program chair of the Industrial Technology department. “They chose to research hemp because astronauts who settle on Mars will need hemp oils for medicines and the fibers for clothes, containers and tools.”
McMains worked with Amy McFarland, the Agricultural Sciences and Technology program chair, to create an elective class within the Ag program. The program then purchased 100 lbs. of Martian soil simulant from the Martian Garden, based in Austin, to get started.
“We are taking responsibility of groundbreaking experiments for the present and for
– Tia Nuanez, Aims EGG 151 student
Ryleigh Corlett is also using the class to explore her interests with space and to earn credit towards her agriculture degree. “Everyone in the class works really hard and we are all constantly learning about new things,” she said. “I’m super glad I joined this class! I’m really excited about what we’re working on because in future experiments we hope to utilize the fibers we collect to build items like shovels and spoons with 3D printing.”
Students and have said their experience in the class have been fun, thoughtful and exhilarating, but not easy. They are enthusiastic to bring more awareness to space agriculture as they continue to perform groundbreaking experiments. Every day, they grow closer to their goal and grow more passionate about their research. At the end of the semester, they will share their report with the COSGC.
“Being exposed to the great partnership with the COSGC that is funded by NASA has motivated me to stay connected to the network we have been building,” said Tia Nuanez, a Horticulture Business Management student. “I am sure I will continue to be involved with further opportunities with NASA.”
Who knows why each of these students grew so fascinated by space and space travel. But for each every one of them, that fascination grew into a passion that drives them. Their goal is challenging and the work can be hard, but they don’t mind. They are helping to push through to the next REMARKABLE achievement in space.
Get Involved Today!
Anyone in the community can sign up for EGG 151. Students who exceed expectations and take more of a leadership role can also receive tuition reimbursement.
Students in the class will also have the chance to apply for a competitive $2,000 scholarship if they transfer to a four-year institution in the COSGC (University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University or Metro State University). Because the funds originate with NASA’s Office of Higher Education, students can also apply for NASA internships.