Pune's Rohan Bhansali, an 11-year-old student from Vidya Valley School in Pashan, has achieved a remarkable feat by having his project selected for NASA's prestigious Cubes in Space program. This program allows students between the ages of 11 and 18 to design and test experiments on NASA missions using small-sized satellites.
Rohan's project aims to study the effectiveness of various industrial materials in protecting against high-intensity solar UV radiation in space. The project was chosen after a rigorous selection process, overseen by the NASA team and project leader Ms. Amber. It involves the use of four UV sensors, three different materials (silk, aluminum, and plastic), and a microprocessor to log data during the cube's 12-hour journey in the stratosphere, reaching an altitude as high as 164,041 feet.
Expressing his enthusiasm, Rohan acknowledged the support and encouragement he received from his school, particularly his teacher Jaya ma'am and Principal Ms. Nalini Sengupta. He expressed his passion for science and his eagerness to participate in extracurricular activities. Rohan's family also played a vital role in supporting his interest in science and motivating him to participate in such initiatives.
Rohan shared his fascination with space, highlighting the vastness of the solar system and the mind-boggling fact that approximately 13 lakh Earths can fit into the sun. Inspired by these facts, he wanted to explore the effects of radiation on commonly used materials like silk, which are utilized in clothing, as well as in food and medicine packaging.
Elaborating on his project, Rohan explained that he built a compact 4 by 4 cm experiment with sensors, a small computer, and a coded program to automate the experiment. He expressed his excitement and anticipation to witness the outcome of his experiment.
NASA's interest in researching the hazards of human spaceflight, particularly the impact of radiation on astronauts, has been well-documented. Despite protective shielding, astronauts still receive a daily dosage of radiation equivalent to eight chest X-rays. Therefore, the selection of materials commonly used in daily life, such as silk, aluminum, and plastic, aims to identify substances that can offer additional protection against UV radiation and safeguard astronauts during their missions.