This year, students at high schools in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama, will have the unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on research with a team of university scientists working on NASA’s Mission to Mars project.

Can algae from deep below the ice of Antarctica possibly survive on Mars?

Students will use specially-designed incubators at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to determine whether Antarctic algae could grow in a Martian environment. NASA astronauts will conduct parallel experiments simultaneously on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA funded Dr. Scott Milroy and Dr. Julie Cwikla, Director of the University of South Alabama’s Center for Integrative Studies in Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CISSTEM), to develop a curriculum that would engage high school students to answer these questions.