Experiment Facilities in Space

Experiment Facilities in Space

Wide varieties of scientific, medical, and educational experiments are conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) – Japanese Experiment Module (JEM).

JEM, also known as Kibo, the Japenese word for “hope”,  is the Japanese science module of the ISS and the largest ISS module. JEM provides extensive opportunities for space environment utilization. These includes experiments to be conducted by Japanese astronauts, in-orbit testing of new technologies in actual space environments, as well as launching of cubesats and microsats.

SSTA is Singapore’s sole administrator for the utilization of JEM for education and technical development.

Features of Space Environment

The space environment has features which cannot be easily obtained on the ground, such as microgravity, high level of vacuum, excellent visibility, and space radiation. A variety of fields of research and experiments or observations is expected to utilize these features.

Microgravity environment

  • Since there is almost no buoyancy in the space environment, light materials and heavy materials can be mixed uniformly.
  • Defect-free crystal structures can be formed because there is almost no weight or depth pressure.
 
High-level vacuum
Space provides a large-scale high-level vacuum environment. At the ISS altitude about 400km (250mi), the pressure of the environment is about one 100,000th of 1Pa, which is about 0ne 100 milllionth of the pressure on the ground.
Excellent visibility
Visibility for observing space is excellent since there is almost no atmosphere and no meteorological effects in space close to the Earth. The whole Earth can be observed from outside of the atmosphere. Abundant, constant, and high-density solar energy is also available.
Space radiation
The space radiation environment is composed of various types of particles. These include a radiation belt consisting of particles captured by the Earth’s magnetic field and surrounding the Earth like a donut; protons with energies ranging from 10 through 1016 Mev; galactic radiation composed of many types of nuclei such as helium, carbon, oxygen, and iron; and high levels of particles generated by solar flares.

Means of Conducting Microgravity Experiments

Space is an ideal place for conducting long-term microgravity experiments while microgravity environment can be obtained on Earth via several means. The means and the comparison are shown in the table below.

Methods of microgravity experiments Microgravity level Duration Information, Examples
 International Space Station 10-4~10-6G Weeks to several years
Aircraft 10-2~10-3G 10 to 25 seconds Weeks to Months
Drop Tower 10-3~10-4G one to ten seconds Weeks to Months
Space shuttle 10-3~10-5G One to two weeks
Free flyer 10-5g or over Depends on mission duration (about six months) Weeks to Months
Small rockets 10-2~10-3G Several minutes Space experiments    by launching small rockets
Mir 10-3~10-5G Weeks to Months Russia’s Mir Space Station