Former students from a New Cross school have become the first pupils in the UK to have their experiment carried out by astronauts on the International Space Station.
The former Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College pupils won a UK-wide competition as part of the International Space School Educational Trust’s Mission Discovery Programme.
One of the students, Siobhan Gnanakulendran said: “It’s amazing, it’s really surreal. We did not expect this to happen.”
Siobhan had worked on the experiment with Laurenda Attah-Wegbe, Siobhan Gnanakulendran, Frederika Cole, Alfie Dent, Daniel Roth and Colin Taylor.
Their experiment examines whether slime mould can grow three-dimensionally in micro-gravity on the International Space Station.
Scientists already know that, on earth, slime mould has spatial memory, and can solve mazes by avoiding its own trails.
Their experiment was selected by a panel of judges led by NASA Space Shuttle Commander Ken Ham & Professor Steve Harridge at King’s College London.
Professor Harridge said: “We are excited to find out how it behaves in space, where the effects of gravity are removed”
Slime mould is able to find the most efficient route to food and could be used to solve complex navigational problems that tax mathematicians and computer analysts.
The six students were congratulated by Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock in a ceremony held at the Civic Suite in Catford on Wednesday evening.
Chris Barber, Director of the International Space School Educational Trust, said the experiment “has excited the whole astronaut office”, who have bet on slime mould growing in 3D in space.
The experiment was launched on the Antares Rocket from NASA’s Wallops Island Complex in Virginia on January 9.