A 15-year-old student from the UAE got the spotlight on Monday as a rocket successfully launched into space from the United States.
The spacecraft was on its way to deliver pounds of science and supplies to the International Space Station and on it was Alia Almansoori’s work that could help astronauts in their experiments.
Almansoori was at the NASA Kennedy Space Centre in Central Florida on Monday as SpaceX’s Dragon lifted off from the launch complex at 12.31pm (8.31pm Dubai time).
The young Emirati girl from Al Mawakeb School Al Barsha in Dubai is the winner in the Genes in Space competition in UAE early this year.
As part of the prize, the young Emirati’s experiment, a study of proteins in DNA that could help astronauts avoid cell damage during long flights, has been sent into space for further study.
“These proteins are made by the body to protect it from the heat. Since there’ s large amounts of radiation in space, I want to see if these proteins will also be made,” Almansoori said in an interview with NASA Television.
Almansoori dreams of becoming an astronaut one day. “I want to be the first astronaut to go to Mars. It’s a big thing to dream about… I’m only 15 and I’m sending my experiment to space, so there’s no impossible.”
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According to NASA, the experiments in space are also seeking a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease and the origin of cosmic rays.
“Research materials that flew inside the Dragon’s pressurised area include a protein believed to be the greatest genetic contributor to Parkinson’s disease,” NASA said in a statement.
The other experiment on cosmic rays will hopefully build a “stronger understanding of the basic structure of the universe.”