Polar Flight 90 - The Polar Pumpkin's Journey to the North Pole

Sparkling Science

Sparkling Science
Sparkling Science students, (Left to Right) SabrinaTrebo and Eva Hauser, pose with the Austrian Minister of Science, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Toechterie. Note the Polar Flight 90 Sparkling Science emblem in the lower left of the framed display.

Sparkling Science: Polar Flight 90 for Lfe

Students, with whom my colleague Dr. Birgit Sattler (University of Innsbruck, Austria) is associated, had a competition among the class as to the design of a logo to go with the Polar Pumpkin. A young lady, Dilek - whose parents come from Turkey - designed the attached logo, the one that I liked best.


Sparkling Science (www.sparklingscience.at) is a research programme of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMWF) which adopts an unconventional way in the promotion of young scientists that is unique in Europe.
The specific characteristic of the programme: in so far more than 160 projects scientists work side by side with young people in current scientific research projects: Sparkling Science supports both big research projects and smaller school research projects.



Microbial Life in the Atmosphere as an Extreme Habitat

The atmosphere has been recognized as a possible habitat for microbial life with extreme conditions such as low temperature, low nutrient conditions, low pressure, high radiation levels, etc. Despite the harsh conditions we find microbial communities where active metabolism and reproduction is still possible. Within the Sparkling Science project TriPolar we want to characterize the microbial diversity and carbon content. Since alpine and polar areas act like sediment traps for bioaerosols the atmosphere is like an inoculum for oligotrophic environments such as ice and snow covered areas (MODUL AIR). To assess the carbon pool of this source in compared to present communities we want to develop a non-invasive technology to detect photosynthetic active pigments (phycoerythrin) in the ice matrix by laser induced fluorescent emission (L.I.F.E.). This method could provide a promising tool to estimate the phototrophic biomass in a high resolution by an airborne application (mounting of a 532nm laser onto a model helicopter) (MODUL L.I.F.E.).

In general, working in ultra-oligotrophic environments requires a high level of sterile working conditions for sampling campaigns. Hence, potential contamination vectors must be reduced substantially. This requirement is valid for the investigation of the cryosphere as well as for analogue research on exoplanets. Within TriPolar we intend to mimic sampling procedures with known forward and backward contamination vectors to assess the quality of sampling methods and devices (MODUL SPACE).

Schools of different types will be directly involved in investigations within the three modules. Beside ecological studies and technical developments they will have to cooperate with international partners to train their language competence by compiling contributions for scientific publications and conferences.

University of Innsbruck, Institute of Ecology
PI: Dr. Birgit Sattler
Contact: birgit.sattler@uibk.ac.at

1. HS Zirl, Tirol
2. BG/BRG Lilienfeld, Nieder sterreich
3. Land- und Sporthauptschule K nigsweg, Tirol
4. HTL Eisenstadt, Burgenland

Scientific partners
1. Zentralanstalt f r Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Wien
2. sterreichisches Weltraumforum, B ro Innsbruck, Tirol
3. Universit t Wien, Department f r Limnologie und Hydrobotanik
4. Universit t Innsbruck, B ro f r ffentlichkeitsarbeit, Tirol

Other partners:
Wings World Quest (www.wingsworldquest.org)
Kinohi Institute, USA (www.kinohi.org)
Art Mortvedt, USA (www.polarflight90.com)
Freeport Junior High School, USA (www.freeportdistrict.com)

Project duration
01. Oktober 2010  31. M rz 2013

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