Apples In Space? Local Students Work With NASA On Apple Lifespan For Astronauts

Wapato High School Students Gearing Up To Show Off To NASA

Wapato High School is the only high school on the west side of the country that is working closely with NASA to try and answer a problem with astronaut’s nutrition in space.

“You know.. we’re in Wapato, if you look around, there are warehouses. Why not just send an apple to space?” Wapato High School Senior Joanna Torres said as she explains the process for how her and a small group of students got the idea that NASA wants to learn more about.

“Seeing if we can put apples in space for about over a year and keep it fresh for astronauts, because they are not getting a lot of nutrients coming back down, their health is a little bit off,” said Senior Brandon Nez.

An apple in space lasts about a week, these students are looking to keep an apple fresh for a year using a sealed chamber with the right mixture of gas says Nez.

“Nitrogen co2, or carbon dioxide, and oxygen, that’s what we’re using”

NASA tries to avoid pressurized equipment in space if it can, a perfect mixture of gas and low pressure can theoretically make an apple last much longer. Fruit warehouses have used the idea for years.

“So it’s like a person being in a coma for about a year-that’s just like the apples because they are living breathing creatures like us,” said Nez.

Engineering and math teacher Christopher Beyrouty gives these students a place to work after school.

Senior Esteban Velazquez talks about three big boards in the Beyrouty’s classroom.

“This is where the idea started, second was our sponsors, and I call this the crazy math board”

A test is being done using the data from that “crazy math board” to determine if the capsule is completely sealed. In April, four lucky students will get to fly on a NASA plane that quickly ascends and descends to give the feeling of G forces and weightlessness, which will test the bounds of the capsule.

“The plane will travel between 30,000 and 10,000 feet in a matter of 20 seconds… 30 seconds so they will literally be falling at the same rate of the plane and that’s how they’ll experience zero gravity,” said Christopher Beyrouty.

Nez, now in his senior year says a year ago, an after school activity like this is not something he would have tried.

“This, this really helped me. Mr. Beyrouty helped me, so I encourage kids to stay in school and do this its very fun.”

The students came up with the idea on their own and submitted it to NASA. Late April the students will head to Houston to showcase their research.