How do the fluid dynamics within a coronary artery behave in space? Would microgravity and radiation have an effect on the performance of coronary stents?
These are the ambitious questions that a group of ISAE-SUPAERO students are investigating as part of their research project. The Team AIM (Artery in Microgravity) led by two second year students of the Master of Science Aerospace Engineering major Space Systems, Olivia Drayson, graduated in Physics from University of Oxford, and Nicolò Bernardini, holding a Bachelor in Aerospace Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, won in October 2018 the European Space Agency (ESA) Academy’s first ever “Orbit Your Thesis!” programme. They were supervised by Chloé Audas (graduated from ISAE-SUPAERO in 2014) working now for ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Center) in the Netherlands.
The experiment that will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS), will be a 2U (20cmx10cmx10cm) experiment cube housed in the ICE Cubes facility of Space Application Services on board the ISS and will act as a test-bench for investigating vascular hemodynamics in microgravity. An electric pump and reservoir will mimic the heart and a blood-mimicking fluid will be pumped around a closed loop containing two model vessels of a coronary artery in series. One model of the coronary artery will contain a coronary stent. The pressure of the fluid will be studied along its path using a series of pressure sensors and a camera will visualize the flow. Ground tests will be conducted concurrently in order to perform a comparison between the on-ground behavior and the behavior in microgravity.
The AIM Team has now increased to nine members. Seven other students with strong backgrounds in mechanical, electronical, medical and biomedical engineering have joined the team and are bringing their different skills. They will be managed by Olivia and Nicolò in order to run this exciting project.
Nicolò is in charge of the electronic and mechanical subteams which are composed of four students of the 2nd year of the Master of Science Aerospace Engineering from ISAE-SUPAERO. Luca Cerquetani (Major Aerospace System and Control) and Michele Genoni (Major Aerospace Space System) will carry out the Electronic part, in writing the software and being in charge of the motherboard. Federico Falcone and Alessandro Cipolletta (Major Aerospace Structure) will work on the Mechanical section, on developing the structure and manufacturing some of the components.
The second group headed by Olivia will be more focused on the scientific part. Federica Vagnone (Major Aerospace Space System) and two students from Politecnico di Torino, Elena Torta and Stefano Gabetti (PhD) will work on all the biological and medical fields.
Thanks to the “Orbit Your Thesis!” programme, ESA Academy will fund the launch of the experiment cube to the ICE Cubes facility on the International Space Station for a 4 month space mission. ESA Academy will also follow the AIM Team through the year by performing environmental tests and assisting in developing their experiment. The AIM Team has already undergone a one week training course at ESA’s ESEC-Galaxia in Belgium.
The project will be launched in 2020 and all at ISAE-SUPAERO School are very proud and would like to congratulate them on their ambitious, interesting and innovative project and we wish them great success.
***Team AIM is sponsored by ESA Academy and ISAE-Fondation for the project, if you want to sponsor or support them, do not hesitate to contact or to follow them on: