Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's party time!

Hello, everyone!
We finished the insec feeding test yesterday. We are still calculating data so I don't have any solid numbers to present but it appears that the best foods to give the bugs are carrots. Potatoes and oat were suprisingly not as popular.
There is now only two weeks left before our trip to Kennedy Space Center. We are all busy writing technical papers, finishing our final experiments and perfecting our prototype. However, this weekend we are taking a short break from our work since it's the first of May. On Monday we'll start the final spurt in our journey to Mars.
Happy vappu, everyone!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bugs and potatoes

Hello, everyone!
If you have been following our facebook page you might remember that we have been experimenting with growing potatoes in various kind of soil. So far it seems that all of the plants are doing great. (There is also some oat growing next to our potatoes. We'll use it to feed the insects we are growing for our experiments.)

A few days ago we received a gift package from our awesome sponsors in Entocube.
What did it contain?
Well, I'll give you a hint. It has lots of legs and it's a great protein source for astronauts.

Now we can test the gas exchange between plants and insects in real life! We are also starting one longer experiment to find out what these insects want to eat the most. Hopefully they find the potatoes as tasty as humans do.
Have a great day!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Five things I've learned during Epic Challenge

Hello, everyone!

This time I'm going to post something different from usual.
My name is Sonja and I've been updating the blog together with Krista, another one of our team members. I'm one of the two high school students in our team. Since we will give a presentation to American high school students regarding our project next week, I feel it could be a good time to share with you a few lessons I've learned myself during the Epic Challenge.

5. Anyone can learn anything if they try hard enough

I have never concidered myself to be very good at biology, chemistry or mathematics. They have always been the most interesting yet most challenging subjects for me to learn in school. In the beginning of last autumn I had no idea what a hydrophonic system was or how the gravity of a planet affects how the plants grow there. During this project I have had to learn about those and dozens of more subjects and suprisingly there hasn't been anything I couldn't have been able to understand. I have learned tons of stuff from our teachers, the NASA experts, the other team members and just by searching for the information. It's amazing how much you can learn if you are invested enough!

4. Good teamwork requires flexibility

One of the main things I've noticed during this year is that not everything goes according to plan. People have lives outside the project and not everyone can always give their all. There is no point in blaming others when timetables don't hold and deadlines lurk behind the corner. You can only accept the siyuation and try to make the best out of it.

3. Managing your own time is vital

I have always had the bad habit of doing everything just before the deadline. Unfortunately that doesn't work when you are a part of a team with little time in thei hands and lots of work to do. Dividing tasks and planning your work really makes everything easier.

2. Keeping an open mind brings pleasant suprises

Insects taste good.
This is one of the more suprising things I've noticed during this project. Before I would have never even concidered putting a squirming, nasty bug in my mouth. Now I can proudly state that grasshoppers with garlic is one of the best things I've ever tasted!
Science is the research of the world around us and one who wants to discover the mysteries of the universe should be able to put their prejustices aside and try new things once in a while.

1. Nothing is impossible

A Finnish high school student working with NASA and innovating technology to habitate Mars with? That sounds absurd, but for me, Netta and our classmates from Red Sandbox that is pretty much our everyday life.
Cooking insects for food and calling to an international space station? Been there, done that.
The Epic Challenge project has taught me many things but perhaps the most important one is this - you can never know what opportunities the life brings to you and it is impossible to determine the circumstances you'll face in the future, but when you have a chance to do something valuable and learn new things, you should take it and try your hardest to make everything you can out of it. Only by taking a leap of faith and testing your own limits you can achieve something truly epic.

Monday, April 4, 2016

One, Two,Three,Testing

Hello, everyone!

This week our main focus has been finishing all the interesting experiments we have been doing lately.
To refresh your memory, these tests include growing different kinds of plants in artificial soil, measuring the endurance and efficency of optical fibre and making sure we find the right balance in the gas exchange between insects and plants.
Did you know that a thick optical fibre can take more heat than a thin one? Or that potatoes can grow in a soil that is compeletely manmade?

 The team is discussing about the details of the final prototype.

Kristina is measuring the amount of light transmitting through a fibre cable.

Jesse is building an airtight chamber... And smiling at the camera.

The heat meter we used to measure the fibre's heat resistance.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Let the building begin!

Hello, everyone!
We are now almost done with the tests nessecary for building our prototype. There are just two experiments left - one that has to do with fibre optics and one about the diet suitable for insects. We also planted some potatoes (More on that in our facebook page!) just yesterday.
But now for the main subject - the building of the actual prototype. We have already decided what we are going to build so why not start already? We are meeting this weekend to do the first structures and components. Here are some pictures of us working with deciding materials and finishing final plans.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

We have created life!

...Well, not really. We just wanted to give you an update regarding our plant-growing experiment. The barley is already sprouting and potatoes are looking good. So far there hasn't been much difference between artificial and traditional growing environments so we'll just have to wait and see.

PS: If you are living in the Joensuu area, you might be interested to know that we are presenting our project in this year's SciFest. Hopefully we'll see you there!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Potatoes in Mars?

Hi, everybody!
It's almost spring here in Joensuu and we are eagerly waiting to see this year's first flowers to bloom.
In the meantime we decided to do some plant-growing of our own - our newest concept includes potatoes, oat and barley. If all goes well, astronauts in Mars might be able to enjoy a
Currently we are testing which one is the best, good old regular soil or an artificial growing environment.
We haven't forgotten about the insects either. Earlier we tried to find the best way to make food out of insects but now we are trying to make food for them. The plants we chose are supposed to feed bugs along with astronauts.
What do you think, do grasshoppers prefer mashed potatoes or porrige?