UoP part of ISRO’s bio experiment in space

UoP is the only institution from the state to be selected

The University of Pune (UoP) has become the only institution from Maharashtra to be selected by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for its Space Capsule Recovery Experiment II (SCRE II).

A four-member team from the varsity's physics department, headed by Vidyasagar, is all set to conduct a biological experiment in this SCRE II satellite.

This is the first time that ISRO has initiated a biological experiment into space. SCRE I was dedicated for experiments in physics and material sciences.

Elaborating on the contribution of the UoP, Vidyasagar said, "We will be studying the effects of micro gravity on the growth of rice and wheat seeds. As part of this experiment, we shall keep 40-50 rice and wheat seeds in micro gravity i.e. space for 12 days. ISRO has allotted us three chambers of 1.2 cubic centimeter each in the satellite for this purpose."

On returning from space, these rice and wheat seeds will be kept in normal environment for 15 days and then sown in the biophysical laboratory in Pune university campus. Three biophysics students -Sagar Jagtap pursuing his PhD, Sheela Khanwani pursuing M.Phil and Santosh Bhaskaran who has just finished his PhD, are part of the team. Professors Pramod Kale and Vivek Asgekar are assisting the team.

"We plan to monitor the growth rate of roots and shoots, chlorophyll and other aspects of rice and wheat plants," Vidyasagar said.

Each student has been assigned to monitor one aspect of growth, he added. The actual experiment will be carried out in the last quarter of 2009.

The team has already conducted preliminary experiments between 2007 and 2009 to monitor the growth of rice and wheat in micro gravity and hyper gravity with the help of special apparatus. "Our findings show that there is accelerated growth in micro gravity and retarded growth in hyper gravity. The purpose of participating in the ISRO experiment is to come up with more accurate results," said Vidyasagar.

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