On Friday, October 2, two Cary-Grove students and winners of the 2019 Go For Launch! American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Apollo (AIAA) Series, Jake Drews and Daniel Marek, had their own experiment launched into space. The experiment launched at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and will dock on the International Space Station to test how moth larva make a chrysalis in microgravity.
Drews and Marek, both juniors at Cary-Grove, were a part of the winning team Flammenwerfer Axolotl made up of three other students who competed together at the 2019 Go For Launch! event in Spring Grove, IL, which was conducted by the nonprofit Higher Orbits. The goal of their experiment is to see microgravity’s effects on the cabbage moths, Galleria mellonella.
“The goal is to test how moths adapt their chrysalis-making in zero-gravity. On Earth, they exploit gravity for constructing them but obviously they cannot do that the same way in space,” said Drews.
Students worked with astronauts, scientists, and engineers to develop an original experiment to fit inside the BUG-01 laboratory, a mere 5-inch cube. Both Drews and Marek agreed one of the biggest challenges was crafting an experiment to fit in such a confined space.
“The team and I have been in constant communication with two representatives from Space Tango which have been putting together the environment and cargo for the launch,” said Marek.
After a few delays due to weather, the launch was available for viewing on NASA TV. The students will have a chance to evaluate and interpret the results of their experiment after 30 days of data collection on the ISS.
“The next step is to celebrate a job well done. We’ve done our part and now get to watch the launch and participate in future years,” said Drews.
Drews also credits his combined math and science classes at Cary-Grove for encouraging his interest in the STEM field and his involvement in programs such as the Go For Launch! series. He encouraged other students to get involved in as many activities and opportunities as possible.
Marek also gave his peers valuable advice: “The advice that I would give to other students would be that you should never give up on something that you are passionate about,” he said.