UNI Lands Grant To Help NASA With Research

Feb 27, 2020

UNI Associate Chemistry professor Joshua Sebree will oversee a research project at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Students will gather samples to aid NASA with research about Jupiter's icy moons.
Credit IPR/Pat Blank

The University of Northern Iowa’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department has been awarded a $25,000 grant by the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, supported by NASA.

Associate professor, Joshua Sebree said the money will be used to purchase special tools for a research trip to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

"We’re getting a new spectrometer, a lot of sampling apparati, that we don’t have currently so that when the students go they have a much more hands on, much more realistic type research experience," he said. "It’s not that they’re just going with a couple of the cheap lab tools.”

Students will study the chemical composition of the cave and gather water samples.

Sebree said there’s a reason why they will travel to that particular setting.

“The only other place on Earth that really contains this sort of water is found in sub glacier lakes like Lake Vostok in Antarctica," said Sebree

The water samples will be taken to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California.  NASA is studying the so-called icy moons of Jupiter. It’s thought the cave water may be similar to what exists there and on Saturn.