The ultimate goal of this research would be to examine the effects of a high altitude environment, particularly the increased radiation, on DNA. A sample of helical DNA will be prepared and then partitioned. One partition will be kept in the lab under constant conditions, while the other will be sent into the stratosphere in a weather balloon to ~100,000ft (30,500m). The differences in pressure, temperature, and radioactivity between the lab setting and the high altitude setting are expected to cause a structural alteration in the DNA. Experiments have shown that the flux of secondary cosmic ray radiation and their energy increase at higher altitudes. It has also been shown that cosmic radiation can cause adverse effects on biological systems such as cancer and radiation sickness. Experiments done thus far typically involve complex biological systems, such as complete cells.
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