Three Italian students won Lab2Moon, the competition that sends scientific experiments to the Moon
Mattia Barbarossa, Altea Nemolato and Dario Pisanti are the three Italian students making up the Space4Life team that in Bengaluru, India, won the prestigious international competition Lab2Moon that offered students around the world the opportunity to send their scientific experiments to the Moon.
The three Italian students beat 3400 teams with their project Radio-Shield, which aims to test the capacity of Cyanobacteria to absorb space radiation, which could become the first European experiment to reach the lunar surface. “Our goal is to solve the problem of space radiation, a major issue for future human deep-space exploration and colonization”, explained Altea Nemolato from Istituto Tecnico Industriale Statale e Liceo Scientifico Francesco Giordani of Caserta. “With Cyanobacteria, we can protect ourselves from high levels of exposure to radiation”, as are those found on the Moon and in interplanetary space. According to Dario Pisanti, a student of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Naples Federico II, Cyanobacteria “have better shielding properties than lead”, and, compared to lead, a colony of Cyanobacteria is “much lighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly”. Mattia Barbarossa, a high-school student at Liceo Statale Pasquale Villari of Naples, who designed the experiment, thinks it possible that a “shield” consisting of layers of cyanobacteria colonies may in the future “be built around the spacecraft that will take the first astronauts to Mars or around an inhabited station in cis-lunar space”, then well outside Earth’s magnetic shield, which currently hosts the International Space Station.
Lab2Moon in an international “educational” project launched by TeamIndus, a team of young Indians who accessed the finals of the Google Lunar X Prize competition sponsored by Google, which selects private projects able to land a robot on the Moon. With a budget of 30 million euro, TeamIndus will be one of the first private companies to have the opportunity to successfully land a rover on the lunar surface, ensure it travels for at least 500 metres and sends back high-quality images. Its launch is scheduled for 30 December 2017 and it will carry the scientific experiment by Mattia, Altea and Dario.