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First International ‘Genes In Space’ Experiment Launches to ISS

On Monday, Aug. 14, 15-year-old Alia Al Mansoori had the experience of lifetime watching and feeling the rumbling liftoff of a rocket carrying her Genes in Space experiment to the International Space Station. There astronauts will perform the research using a MiniPCR DNA replication to look for protein changes in DNA that signal unwanted cell death in space.

The work may help researchers devise ways to detect unhealthy changes in astronauts during a long mission such as those required to make voyages into deep space to destinations including the moon and Mars.

Alia Al Mansoori, a student in UAE, is the first person to win an international edition of the Genes in Space program and had Mars on her mind when she proposed her experiment. She hopes the research will provide more insight into how DNA may cause premature aging during long periods of microgravity.

“This experiment is sort of the first step to understanding how our bodies react to the effects of radiation in space,” Al Monsoori said.

Genes in Space was founded by Boeing and MiniPCR. With partners UAE Space Agency, CASIS, Math for America, New England Bio-Labs and FedEx, the contest called for proposals from students in grades 7 to 12 in UAE. Al Mansoori worked with Tessa Montague of Harvard as her scientific mentor.