discovery space shuttle launch
AP/Chris O'Meara
The Discovery Shuttle early Monday Aug.
24, 2009 at the Kennedy
Space Center,
as NASA prepares for its launch.

Experiments in Space: International Space Station to Get New Science Equipment

August 24, 2009 06:00 PM
by Haley A. Lovett
The latest Discovery mission will bring mice, a freezer, small furnaces, and another mini science lab to the International Space Station to study how matter behaves without gravity.

Science Equipment Will Add to the Many Labs Already Aboard ISS

When the space shuttle Discovery launches the STS-128 mission, it will bring to the International Space Station supplies such as clothes, food and updates to the air filtration system for the crew already aboard. But this mission will also be carrying cargo that will help the ISS crew perform science experiments.
The International Space Station is already a working science station. According to NASA, the ISS has 20 research units inside the station and eight experiments going on outside of the craft. NASA has an alphabetical list of the experiments in progress or already conducted on the ISS; the list is impressive, and includes tests of how tools work in space, how matter behaves without gravity, whether organisms can survive in space and how bodies behave in a zero gravity environment.

The new science tools traveling with the upcoming mission will include an additional freezer called the Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer, where astronauts can store biological and other samples. The space shuttle crew will also bring a Materials Science Research Rack that will work as a mini science lab for astronauts to study how materials such as glass, crystals and ceramics behave in space. According to, this rack will have two small furnaces that can heat up the materials to allow astronauts to study them in many forms.

The shuttle crew will also bring aboard a Fluids Integrated Rack, which will allow the astronauts to study how fluids boil and cool in space, and how bubbles or gels behave in space.

Also joining the space crew will be a new batch of mice, who will live in space and later return to Earth so that scientists can further study bone loss in zero gravity environments.

Often, products developed for use in space, or developed as the result of in-space experiments, can end up becoming useful to people on Earth. One such example is an experimental clothing material worn as underwear for a month straight, and returned to Earth with the last shuttle mission.

NEXT: Experimental Underwear Could Be Next Space-Age Product to Catch on With the Masses

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