NASA’s space shuttle to carry out experiments in space

March 16th, 2008 - 12:05 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 16 (ANI): The space shuttle Endeavour, which was launched on March 14, is carrying with it a set of experiments designed and constructed in the laboratory of Dennis Jacobs, a University of Notre Dame professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

The experiments are part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE), a multi-institutional collaboration to explore how materials degrade in the low-earth orbit spacecraft environment.

The 16-day mission will be NASA’s longest space station trip and will include five space walks by the crew of seven, the most ever while a shuttle is docked to a station.

The Notre Dame experiments occupy a prized spot, alongside the installation of a Japanese research module and the delivery of a two-armed Canadian robot to the orbiting International Space Station.

One of the highlights of the mission would be a space walk by astronauts on March 17 to install the MISSE-6 experiment outside the space station, where it will fly for approximately one year.

Every 20 minutes during the next year, the experiment will gather important data on a variety of materials involved in the experiment.

On a later shuttle mission, a different team of astronauts will retrieve the MISSE-6 experiment and bring it back to earth for further analysis. Jacobs and other researchers will then be able to examine closely the kind of degradation that transpired in space.

“Contrary to popular belief, the low-earth orbit spacecraft environment is a hostile one where energetic atoms, ions, electrons, and radiation bombard the surfaces of a satellite,” said Jacobs. “Over time, these corrosive components will degrade and erode most materials,” he added.

According to Jacobs, “We have devised a set of knock-out experiments that remove different portions of the flux of energetic particles that irradiate the external surfaces of a spacecraft. This will allow us to isolate how each component of the low-earth orbit environment contributes to the overall degradation of each material specimen.”

“By understanding the detailed mechanistic pathway through which a variety of materials are eroded in space, we hope to guide the development of next-generation satellite materials that will be durable in space,” he added. (ANI)

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