Raul Yzaguirre School For Success [RYSS] - NASA Saturn V Tour, Lunar Lab Tour and Opuntia Cactus Research Discussion [August 24, 2011]

Saturn V The Saturn V was an American man-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center. It remains the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for the heaviest launch vehicle payload.

The Saturn V rocket at the Johnson Space Center is made up of the first stage from SA-514, the second stage from SA-515 and the third stage from SA-513 (replaced for flight by the Skylab workshop). With stages arriving between 1977 and 1979, this was displayed in the open until its 2005 restoration when a structure was built around it for protection. This is the only display Saturn consisting entirely of stages intended to be launched. [wikipedia.org]


The core group of RYSS students: left to right - Alma Villarreal, Destiny Buendia, Janet Mendiola, Erika Bonilla, and Jesus Gomez.

A part of the rocket engine assembly is seen.

Stages of the Saturn V are seen.

The Apollo capsule is seen atop the Saturn V rocket.

Stages of the Saturn V are seen.

Erika Bonilla is seen taking a photograph of one of the stages.

Lunar Laboratory [Building 31N] Geologic samples returned from the Moon by the Apollo lunar surface exploration missions (1969-1972), along with associated data records, are physically protected, environmentally preserved, and scientifically processed in a special building dedicated for that purpose. A total of 382 kilograms of lunar material, comprising 2200 individual specimens returned from the Moon, has been processed to meet scientific requirements into more than 110,000 individually catalogued samples.

Building 31N at Johnson Space Center was constructed from 1977 to 1979, and opened in 1979 to provide for permanent storage of the lunar sample collection in a physically secure and non-contaminating environment. The purpose of the facility is to maintain in pristine condition the lunar samples that comprise a priceless national and scientific resource while making the samples available to approved scientists and educators. [curator.jsc.nasa.gov]


The core group of students is seen with Dr. Muirhead [left] and Mr. Galindo [background, center] in the Lunar Lab. Notice the "bunny" suits that they are wearing to prevent contamination of the lunar samples.

Left to right: students - Jesus Gomez, Janet Mendiola, Erika Bonilla, Destiny Buendia, and Alma Villarreal. Mr. Galindo [back to camera] is seen lecturing about the Lunar Lab and its important samples.

An overview of the Lunar Lab ... its containment cabinets ... is seen. Notice the extended glove in the foreground. This is indicative of the positive pressure inside the cabinets to prevent contamination of the lunar samples from the outside.

Mr. Galindo [foreground, left] and Dr. Muirhead [foreground, right] talk to the students about the Apollo program and the ongoing research with the lunar samples. Erika Bonilla, Jesus Gomez, and Destiny Buendia are seen [background].

Alma Villarreal [left] is amused as Janet Mendiola tries on the rubber glove. Notice her raised hand inside the containment cabinet.

Destiny Buendia succeeds in fitting her hand into the rubber glove ... a bit difficult due to the positive pressure pushing the glove outward.

Jesus Gomez succeeds in fitting both hands into the rubber gloves, and proudly displays his prowess of overcoming the positive pressure aspects of the containment cabinet.

The students are seen working with the rubber gloves and containment cabinets with the understanding that these tasks are performed by research scientists studying the lunar samples on a regular basis.

Erika Bonilla is seen [foreground] looking at a lunar sample through a microscope. She is also taking a photograph of the sample with her camera. Destiny Buendia is seen to her left [background].

Alma Villarreal is seen [foreground] taking a photograph of a lunar sample with her camera. The lunar sample can be seen through the glass of the containment cabinet.

Destiny Buendia is seen [foreground] looking at a lunar sample through a microscope. Notice the photograph on her camera. The lunar sample can be seen through the glass of the containment cabinet.

The students are seen with Mr. Galindo and a Lunar Lab assistant looking at historical photographs of the lunar samples. Notice the lunar samples inside the containment cabinet [foreground].

Lunar samples from three different areas of the Moon are seen in the containment cabinet.

The students are seen listening to the Lunar Lab assistant about the various lunar samples. Dr. Muirhead [back to camera, foreground] and Mr. Galindo [left] are also seen.

Lunar samples are seen inside the containment cabinet.

Group photo in the NASA cafeteria: Left to right - Mr. Galindo, Erika Bonilla, Space Shuttle astronaut, Destiny Buendia, Jesus Gomez, Janet Mendiola, Mr. Chambers, and Alma Villarreal.

Opuntia Cactus Research Laboratory [Building 31N] The project tests growing Opuntia cacti under elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and how to produce essential non-food products for space habitats and deserts on Earth. Cacti will play a major role in reducing global warming by taking up the world’s increasing levels of carbon dioxides in dry regions of the world.

The specific application of the project is conversion of the Opuntia plant’s mucilage to coagulant to purify turbid water. The plant is grown under elevated carbon dioxide levels of the International Space Station (4,000 ppm), and simple processes are developed to convert the plant material to coagulant, which can be used to remove clay from turbid waters.

This project is also a unique collaboration between Mexico and the United States. The Houston researchers [Dr. Muirhead] are working with Professor Aldo Tovar Puentes, Chief of the Chemistry Lab and Professor in Academia at the Catedrático del Instituto Tecnológico de Linares.

Another unique part of this research is the involvement of students from Raul Yzaguirre School For Success in Houston. The students are assisting the researchers by making an impartial, independent documentary of the project which explores the important economic, social and technological issues related to the role that plants play in the exploration of space and the environmental problems facing the world. [Opuntia cactus]


Dr. Muirhead is seen discussing the Opuntia cactus research project with the students: left to right - Erika Bonilla, Destiny Buendia, Janet Mendiola, and Alma Villarreal. Notice the cactus in Dr. Muirhead's gloved hand.

Dr. Muirhead continues the discussion as Jesus Gomez [right] videotapes the session for the student-generated documentary.

Destiny Buendia is seen [left] interviewing Dr. Muirhead as Janet Mendiola looks on.

Destiny Buendia continues the interviewing of Dr. Muirhead as the other students wait their turn for a question and answer session. Notice the growing chambers for the cacti to the left of Dr. Muirhead.

The question and answer session continues as one of Dr. Muirhead's research associates looks on.

Dr. Muirhead continues his discussion of the Opuntia cactus growing under elevated carbon dioxide levels of the International Space Station ... seen as a simulation in the top growing chamber that Dr. Muirhead is pointing towards.

Alma Villarreal is seen [right] videotaping the session for the student-generated documentary. Mr. Galindo is on the floor taking photographs of the session.

Opuntia cacti are seen growing outside Building 31N. Notice the contrast between the cacti and the tree.

RYSS - NASA movie

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