Costa Rica’s Second Space Mission Seeks Cure For The Panama Disease, A Plague That Causes Banana Plantations To Wilt Worldwide

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    Bruce Callow
    Bruce Callow is a Canadian teacher and co-author of the book To the Stars: Costa Rica in NASA. He does space education outreach work on behalf of NASA.

    Banana is a tropical crop that is part of the basic diet of 400 million people worldwide. Banana production has been affected by the denominated Panama disease which is considered one of the most destructive fungal diseases recorded in banana history. This disease has spread in countries such as China, Southeast Asia, Australia, Jordan, Mozambique, Pakistan, Lebanon, Laos and Colombia.

    The biggest Cavendish banana plantations are located in America. The region economy is at risk, just in Costa Rica, banana generates 40 thousand direct and 100 000 indirect jobs and is the biggest single exportation product.

    The mission aims to take the fungus responsible for the Panama Disease to the International Space Station to generate information for a possible cure by studying the effects of microgravity in its in genic expressions.

    This mission is called MUSA Project and was developed by Costa Rican startup Orbital Space Technologies. MUSA is led by students and young professionals with the support of the Swedish Space Corporation, Costa Rica Institute of Technology, and the Central American Association for Aeronautics and Space.

    The MUSA project won the 6th Mission Idea Contest held by UNISEC in Tokyo Japan, it also won the Project with most potential for international cooperation award by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

    Currently, the team is looking for help to finance the mission and you can help by donating to crowdfunding! The funding for this mission consists of an estimated cost of $30 000.

    Your donation will help them cover:

    • Materials and construction of the experiment.
    • Assembly facilities.
    • Flight readiness tests.
    • Biological samples and supplies.
    • Logistics and transport of the experiment to the launch site.

    If you would like to make a contribution to this project please go here:

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