In the DNA

First international Genes in Space winner’s experiment heads to space

August 22, 2017 in Space, Technology

Watching a rocket launch is a memorable event for a spectator.  For 15-year-old Alia Al Mansoori, the latest rocket launch to the International Space Station (ISS) had a special meaning.  On August 14, Al Mansoori watched with pride as her DNA experiment launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  She is the first international winner of the Boeing-founded Genes in Space competition.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) student developed a DNA experiment that will be performed by astronauts aboard the ISS.

The experiment, to be conducted using a MiniPCR DNA replicator, will look for protein changes in DNA that signal unwanted cell death in space.

Al Mansoori said she hopes her research will provide more insight into how DNA may cause premature aging during long periods in microgravity.  "This experiment is sort of the first step to understanding how our bodies react to the effects of radiation in space," she said. 

The work may help researchers devise ways to detect unhealthy changes in astronauts during a long mission like a mission to Mars.

The UAE Space Agency partnered in this edition of the Genes in Space competition, joining Boeing and MiniPCR along with sponsors the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, New England BioLabs, Math for America and FedEx.