Slovak high-schoolers will research recycling of human hair in Mars simulated mission

Students should have a proposed solution to gaining energy, food or protection from cosmic radiation.

(Source: Marcela Danišová)

The second year of the Mission Mars competition knows its winners. Students from the Gymnasium in Skalica created the winning project – using human hair as plant fertiliser. The idea will be tested in February 2019 during a simulated mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Hawaii.

“I liked that the students often approached their projects as serious scientists and prepared them so thoroughly that we are able to realistically and easily implement them during the simulated Mars and Moon missions,” said Michaela Musilová, Slovak astrobiologist and head of the Hawaii mission, as quoted by press release.

Students from the F.V. Sasinka Gymansium in Skalica want to prove the use of human hair to fertilise plants at the same quality as normal fertilisers. They use the fact that hair grows faster in space than on Earth. In eight months, astronauts could have enough material to grow plants. Scientists need only scissors and a plant to conduct the experiment.

Read also:Slovak astrobiologist will head simulated missions into space

The students of St Tomáš Akvinský Gymnasium from Košice came in second, who proposed growing potatoes in the air without using soil. Students from the Detva Gymnasium took third place with the idea of using the biological material of the researchers to create recycled water.

“We want to motivate students to deal with natural sciences and think about the complicated challenges and its solutions that the exploration of Mars brings,” said Miroslav Šarišský, external relations manager for the Slovenské Elektrárne power producer, as quoted by a press release, adding that the organizers wanted to make students think about where to take energy, what to eat or how to protect themselves from cosmic radiation.

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