When the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery returned today from their historic mission, they brought back an experiment package eagerly anticipated by students from across the country. The experiments had been on board the International Space Station.

Twenty tiny experiment samples were delivered to the Space Station on December 25, 2004, on board a Russian Progress supply ship. The experiment samples are from 11 schools and organizations representing students in elementary through high school. Eight of these schools and organizations also flew experiments on the Space Shuttle Columbia’s last mission in 2003.

The schools and organizations participating in the Space Station experiments:

Central Park Middle School, Scotia, N.Y.
J.M. Bailey School, Bayonne, N.J.
The Mott Hall School, New York
American Museum of Natural History, New York
Shoshone-Bannack High School, Pocatello, Idaho
Bishop Borgess High School, Dearborne Heights, Mich.
Ogdensburg Public School, Ogdensburg, N. J.
East Norriton Middle School, Norristown, Pa.
Shady Side Elementary School, West River, Md.
Columbus High School, Columbus, Ga.
Walkersville Christian Family School, Stockton, Md.

The student experiments contained a variety of materials and seeds in 20 clear vials with lids. Each vial was wrapped in two vacuum bags and placed in a Student Experiment Module Satchel carrier.

The vials are expected to be returned to the schools and organizations at the beginning of the upcoming school year. After receiving the space-flown samples, the students will be able to compare them to ground samples.

For information about the student experiments on the Internet, visit:


Most of the biggest black holes in the universe have been eating cosmic meals behind closed doors – until now.

With its sharp infrared eyes, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) peered through walls of galactic dust to uncover what may be the long-sought missing population of hungry black holes known as quasars.

“From past studies using X-rays, we expected there were a lot of hidden quasars, but we couldn’t find them,” said Alejo Martínez-Sansigre of the University of Oxford, England. He is lead author of a paper about the research in this week’s Nature. “We had to wait for Spitzer to find an entire population of these dust-obscured objects,” he said.
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