Magazine article Science News

Micro-G Earth Lab for Space Studies

Magazine article Science News

Micro-G Earth Lab for Space Studies

Article excerpt

The idea of using the near-weightless or microgravity environment of space to produce new materials such as new alloys and ultrapure crystals has been around for years. If it has not exactly proceeded by leaps and bounds, some of the reasons have been the limited opportunities and high costs of space flight. In the last three years, however, the Reagan administration has sought to encourage more private-sector involvement in space, a task that includes finding ways to involve corporations and universities that heretofore may not have been active in space research.

With this in mind, NASA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland last week opened a new Microgravity Materials Science Laboratory (MMSL) designed specifically "to help experimenters make better decisions about what is and is not feasible for science experiments in space." In short, says Salvatore J. Grisaffe, chief of Lewis's Materials Division, "it is dedicated to helping industry and university people take the first step toward space."

It can be pretty inhibiting, Grisaffe notes, if an organization just starting to contemplate an idea for future space study, but without experience in such matters, find that it may need something like a $200,000 furnace to design an experiment. Thus the MMSL offers potential experiment designers furnaces, acoustic and electromagnetic levitation equipment and other devices, sometimes including "functional duplicates" of equipment that would actually be used if such a study were conducted on the shuttle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.