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NASA Glenn Experiments on Next Space Shuttle Mission to the International Space Station

April 27, 2011

When space shuttle Endeavour is launched on April 29, it will carry six experiments developed over the last ten years at NASA’s Glenn Research Center to the International Space Station.

Materials International Space Station Experiment 8 (MISSE-8), developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), will carry Glenn’s Polymers Experiment, consisting of 40 different polymer samples. This experiment is the sixth in a series of experiments that test the erosion of different types of polymers in the harsh environment of space.

MISSE-8 will include electronics developed in Glenn’s Mobile And Remote Sensing (MARS) Lab to support the Forward Technology Solar Cell Experiment (FTSCE) III, a partnership with the NRL. The FTSCEIII will connect to the Communications Interface Board (CIB) on the space station and will be used by researchers on the ground to control and communicate with all the active experiments in the MISSE series. The CIB was also designed by the MARS Lab and was installed with MISSE-7 on a previous shuttle mission. With this shuttle mission, 35 circuit boards designed by the MARS Lab have been flown in support of dozens of research instruments testing more than one hundred active components in orbit as part of MISSE.

Also on MISSE-8 will be the Ferroelectric Reflectarray Critical Components Experiment (F-Recce). This experiment will provide data on the long-duration performance of critical components associated with Glenn’s novel Reflectarray Antenna–an antenna that can redirect its main beam without physically repositioning itself. These data will be used in the design of a fully functional reflectarray space experiment to be done at a later time. Applications of the Reflectarray Antenna System include inter-satellite communications links, space based radar, precipitation radar and automotive collision avoidance radar among others.

Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions (InSPACE-3) will build on previous InSPACE experiments by obtaining data on fluids that change their physical properties in response to magnetic fields. This technology has promise for improving the ability to design structures, such as bridges and buildings, to better withstand earthquake forces.

Shear History Extensional Rheology Experiment (SHERE II) — will continue to investigate the effect of preshearing, or rotation, on the stress and strain response of a suspension, consisting of a polymer fluid filled with microspheres (small glass spheres), as it is being stretched in microgravity.

The fundamental understanding and measurement of these suspensions is important for containerless processing, an important operation for fabrication of parts (such as adhesives or fillers) using elastomeric materials on future exploration missions. This knowledge can be applied to controlling and improving Earth-based manufacturing processes as well.

Light Microscopy Module-Biological Technical Demonstration (LMM-BIO-2) is a continuation of the in orbit characterization of a remote control space microscope. The data from live samples and cell cultures will further demonstrate the biological experiment capabilities of the Light Microscopy Module (LMM) facility on the space station.

For more information on STS-134, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

For further information about NASA’s Glenn Research Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/glenn




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