Irish clover project picked for space station mission
A COLLEGE is thanking its lucky stars after its experiments on clover were selected to be taken on board the international space station.
Scientists at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) are celebrating after their unique project was chosen to be taken into space next year.
The LIT research examines whether clover and related plants can be used as natural fertilisers, and their potential significant benefits in supportable sustainable agriculture worldwide.
It is hoped that the experiment and its findings could lead to a reduction in the use of synthetic fertilisers on Earth, which would provide benefits for the global environment.
A panel of judges based at Space Florida – the spaceport authority and aerospace economic development organisation in the US – chose the Limerick research as one of eight projects on the strength of their commercial viability and overall benefit to mankind.
The announcement was made in New Orleans yesterday.
LIT's application was led by Prof Gary Stutte, who is assisted by Dr Patrick Murray and postgraduate student Martin Hayes.
Prof Stutte said being selected for the space mission was a great privilege.
"Being one of just eight applicants globally chosen for this research space mission is a huge statement and validation for the progressive and critical nature of our research programme," he said.
It is the first time an Irish institution has been a leader and principal investigator in an experiment to the international space station.