Marfa Martians visit the nation’s capital

WASHINGTON DC – The Marfa Martians recently traveled to Washington DC for the 2019 Student SpaceFlight Experiment Project Annual National Conference. Wearing white lab coats with the purple Marfa Shorthorns logo, the team gave a five-minute presentation about their project in front of student peers at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Each student spoke and explained their process and their findings under the Space Shuttle Discovery, which launched the Hubble Telescope in 1990 and conducted two servicing missions of Hubble in 1997 and 1999.

The all-girls team of fourth, fifth and sixth graders have been researching how to eradicate bacteria in microgravity after they learned that the bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, is on the International Space Station (ISS) and could endanger astronauts’ health. The bacteria is found in soil, hay, and the guts of humans and animals, and it grows spores.

The young scientists examined if isopropanol alcohol would properly kill those spores in microgravity versus earth’s gravity. Since the bacteria is unsafe, they used a related bacteria for their experiment. They will gather the results after the experiment launches to the ISS on July 21 as part of Mission 13.

During their trip to the nation’s capital, the students also visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and more.

Donations from the community and fundraising activities helped cover travel cost and fees for the trip.

The Marfa Martians is lead by Co-Principal Investigators Charlotte Browning and Ashley Certain. The rest of the team consists of Co-Investigators Madison Cash, Daniela Fernandez, Colette Fowlkes and Mabel Melgaard. They work under the direction of teacher Cheri Aguero and advisors Dr. Michael San Francisco, Dr. Marilyn M. Sanders and Amanda Starr, PhD Candidate.