Nov 3, 2006

NASA/July 17, 1997 MSL-1 Science Wrapup - the Future

Expediting the Future

New Techniques on MSL-1

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July 17, 1997 11 a.m. CDT

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A design for hitching a quick ride to the International Space Station was tested with a new rack that itself was an experiment as it hosted two other experiments.

The EXPRESS rack is designed to Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station by providing a "plug and chug" capability. It is a modified Space Station rack into which new experiments can be plugged, operated, then removed. PHaSE was in EXPRESS throughout the mission. Although it had a few teething problems, the concept was shown to be sound and quite usable.

That usability was demonstrated with the Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (Astro/PGBA) which was stowed in the middeck then installed in EXPRESS in orbit, and finally removed during shutdown. This miniature greenhouse could help forests by making paper production more efficient. Specifically, the experimenters want to understand how to reduce the growth of lignin, the tough, unusable fiber in wood. Comparing ground- and space-grown trees may shed light on this process.

Finally, all the experimenters will check their results against an array of four sets of microgravity accelerometers that quietly spent the mission measuring just how smooth the ride was.

Other MSL-1 science summaries:

Author: Dave Dooling
Curator: Bryan Walls
NASA Official: John M. Horack