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Area students defy gravity in NASA tests

Andy Ouriel • Oct 7, 2013 at 10:57 AM

It’s tough enough to accurately measure liquid in test tubes and properly heat materials with a Bunsen burner.

Now imagine how difficult science experiments can get when performing tests and recording data in a weightless environment.

NASA administrators selected two Baldwin Wallace University students with local ties to recently participate in the space program’s Reduce Gravity Student Flight Program.

The students — 2009 Edison High graduate Sarah Rospert and 2010 Western Reserve High graduate Logan Sirline — traveled on NASA’s Weightless Wonder, or “vomit comet” in Houston, Texas.

The aircraft, known for its nausea-inducing aerial maneuvers, reached zero-gravity atmospheres above the Gulf of Mexico. This atmosphere allowed Rospert, Sirline and several others to test liquid bridges in hopes of better understanding mechanical bridge stability.

The testing can even help doctors heal spinal cord injuries.

Both continue to analyze the data, and they’ll report their findings sometime in the coming weeks.

“The flight was an experience of a lifetime,” Rospert said.

Rospert, who graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in biology, plans to enroll in physician’s assistant school in 2014.

“Doing this kind of testing will apply to me later on in life,” she said.

Sirline, applying for medical school within a year, said she’ll always remember how it felt being aboard a zero-gravity aircraft.

“You literally feel like nothing,” Sirline said. “I was floating back and forth, pulling my feet from underneath me. You can flip and move freely.”

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