The students at Fowler High School were crushed upon learning about the Columbia tragedy Saturday but over the past few days their depression has turned into a steely resolve to complete their experiment with focus and clarity, said Spina.
"This is life," he said. "There are disappointing tragedies but as humans, as Americans, we must dust ourselves off and get back on that horse again and do even better."
Spina said that the results of the ant experiment are unlikely to have a dramatic effect on how humans think about space, but will be an important contribution to understanding the effect microgravity has on living things.
Lessons from Tragedy
Spina hopes that the loss of Columbia will not deter students from pursuing a career in the sciences, but will rather inspire them to keep working even in the face of tragedy.
"When operating at leading edge with complex systems, the systems will fail and the important thing to do is find out what went wrong, fix it, and get right back on and continue to push the envelope," he said.
The families of the seven astronauts aboard Columbia issued a statement Monday that also urged NASA and the nation not to give up on human spaceflight in the wake of the shuttle tragedy.
"Although we grieve deeply, as do the families of Apollo 1 and Challenger before us, the bold exploration of space must go on," their statement reads. "Once the root cause of this tragedy is found and corrected, the legacy of Columbia must carry onfor the benefit of our children and yours."
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