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Photo credit: Ricardo Miranda-Pérez

We are a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, computer scientists, teachers, and students, with the main purpose of exemplifying citizen science (click here for a definition of citizen science).

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Main Project Summary

Fungal spores, which are known to pose human respiratory health risks (e.g. respiratory allergies, asthma), are important contributors to the Microbiome particularly in the troposphere. Less is known about their potential to contribute to stratospheric Microbiome. The proposed research seeks to design a CubeSat with a Removable Specimen Collector to determine if allergenic fungal spores can reach the stratosphere. Air samples will be collected at ground level, troposphere, and stratosphere levels through a Removable Specimen Collector designed within a CubeSat, which will be carried up through the different layers of the atmosphere by the Perlan II glider. The design and performance of the CubeSat hardware will be optimized through preliminary experimentation prior to launch. Through optical microscopy and image analysis, the concentration of fungal spores per cubic meter of air and proportions of specific fungal spore types will be determined and compared between the ground level, troposphere, and stratosphere levels. Our expected findings will provide insights into the contribution of allergenic fungal spores to the stratospheric Microbiome, and thus the potential of allergenic fungal spores to engage in long-distance travel through the upper layers of the atmosphere. (click here to find additional information about the project)



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