[image-118]Inspiring and innovating are two things the users of the International Space Station (ISS) do very well. Noting these achievements is the goal of the second annual ISS Research and Development Conference's second plenary panel, titled Top Benefits and Applications in Earth Science, Materials and Education.
Three individuals were recognized for their work in this category, accepting awards during the afternoon of July 16 as they took part in the conference plenary panel highlighting their research:
Darryl Keith, Ph.D., Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in recognition of outstanding results on Hyperspectral Imaging for Ocean Protection – named a Top Application from the International Space Station in 2012.
Eric Furst, Ph.D., University of Delaware, in recognition of outstanding results on Colloid Self Assembly – named a Top Application from the International Space Station in 2012.
Zahaan Bharmal, Google, in recognition of outstanding impacts from the YouTube Space Lab Project – named a Top Education Application on the International Space Station in 2012.
“These selected awardees are furthering our understanding of the universe by implementing new ways of looking at the Earth and space and inspiring young people to embrace the space station and test out their own scientific theories,” said Allyson Thorn, assistant International Space Station Program scientist.
The plenary panel, moderated by NASA’s International Space Station Program Scientist Julie Robinson, Ph.D., showcases key contributions to advancements in knowledge and the state-of-the-art in the fields of astrophysics, heliophysics or Earth science, enabling engineering or exploration and educational activities.
Keith accepted the award on behalf of his research team regarding their work using the Hyperspectral Imager for Coastal Oceans (HICO) to gather imagery for ocean protection for the EPA. Funded by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development Pathfinder Innovation Program, the research is conducted as part of the Safe and Sustainable Waters Research Program.
“Our research team developed a novel space-based approach for environmental monitoring across a range of spatial and temporal scales never before feasible with field-based monitoring,” said Keith. “This award is an acknowledgement of the vision and spirit of our researchers. With this capability this project is important in creating sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Such sustainable solutions are critical to achieving cost effective and robust means of implementing sustained observation of the nation’s coastal and estuarine waters over large temporal and spatial scales.”
In addition to the imager itself, Keith goes on to cite the space station platform as key in the acquisition of this data. “Having access to the space station provides scientists and managers with a unique vantage point to observe changes in coastal and estuarine water quality previously not feasible with field-based monitoring,” said Keith. “Policy makers and environmental managers need this type of information to assess watershed ecosystem health and the services they provide to the public under current and future land use practices.”
The Inspace-2 and -3 investigations used the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) to perform experiments to understand how magnetic fields can impact kinetic barriers of colloidal self-assembly phase transitions. Exposure to a magnetic field causes these “smart” fluids to self-assemble swiftly into solid-like states, called “bundling.” They return to liquid when the magnetic pulse ends. These unique fluids may lead to improved brake, suspension and vibration dampening systems in vehicles and planes, among other applications. “What it represents is an unusual path to phase separation, and we've already begun to harness our understanding to make materials from these tiny building blocks here back on Earth,” said Furst. “We are confident that the principles discovered during InSPACE-2 will someday lead to advanced forms of nanomanufacturing, enabling new materials and new technologies for Earth and space applications.”
In reaction to receiving this honor, Furst continued, “I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of all of the team members that contributed to the success of the InSPACE-2 project, including two talented postdocs who are now beginning academic careers, James Swan (MIT) and Paula Vasquez (University of South Carolina), our support at [NASA's] Glenn Research Center and Zinn Technologies, and of course the astronauts who performed the experiments. For me, the award represents the phenomenal potential for discovery and the knowledge that can be gained in physical sciences using the unique experimental environment of long-duration microgravity.”
YouTube Space Lab was a global contest for 14- to 18-year-old students who submitted two-minute YouTube videos for physics or biology investigations to take place aboard the space station. The two winning studies looked at the predatory behavior of a jumping spider and the anti-fungal properties of Bacillus subtilis in microgravity.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Bharmal. “YouTube Space Lab was a labor of love. It was not, however, the achievement of one individual or even one company. It was a global partnership—bringing together scientists, astronauts, educators, enterprises and governments—all of whom share the common vision of inspiring the next generation to take a great interest in science. This award belongs to all our partners.”
Bharmal points out the importance of education programs, such as YouTube Space Lab, in the continuation of exploration and for a future of motivated researchers and engineers. “The first man or woman to one day walk on Mars is, today, a child," said Bharmal. "YouTube Space Lab—and programs like it—are so very important to those on Earth because they are helping to inspire this next generation of explorers who may one day find a new home beyond Earth.”
Additional award categories for these space station achievements represented during the other conference plenary panels include top technology applications enabling exploration; top utilization of space station for medical advancements; and top discoveries in microgravity. The overall theme of the conference for 2013 is Discoveries, Applications and Opportunities. The conference is organized by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) in cooperation with NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).