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UCF Experiment Selected to Fly on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo

June 5, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando - The Collisions Into Dust Experiment has been chosen to fly on the first NASA-funded commercial research flight.

A rendering of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. Courtesy of Virgin Galactic. 

Earth dust may be annoying to clean—but space and asteroid dust can be downright hazardous.

That’s according to UCF professor Dr. Joshua Colwell. He’s the leader of an experiment looking at how projectiles launched into simulated moon or asteroid material will behave in space.

He says Apollo astronauts had a hard time getting rid of lunar dust after their moonwalk. The dust stuck to their spacesuits and almost became a health hazard for the astronauts.

To investigate exactly what happens to the dust in space, Colwell's experiment will be conducted on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. The flight will go above earth's atmosphere for a few minutes.

“We’re basically having a simulated surface of an asteroid and we’re poking it very gently in this low gravity environment to see what the response of that material is," Colwell says.

Colwell says the experiment will help with future research operations on asteroids or low-gravity moons.

No flight date has been set as of yet. 


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