NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) - 03.19.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) is an investigation sponsored by a commercial organization with the hope of finding new chemical building blocks for their products through microgravity extraction of the terpenes from wood samples.
Science Results for Everyone
NanoRacks, LLC, Houston, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Laboratory (NL)
ISS Expedition Duration
September 2011 - May 2012
Previous ISS Missions
- NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) studies terpene extraction in microgravity.
- Terpenes are major biosynthetic building blocks within nearly every living creature and have multiple applications-such as use in cleaning products, aromatherapy, and various topical preparations.
- To date, terpenes have not been studied in the space environment, yet they are critical components of major consumer products.
NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) is a commercial investigation studying the extraction of terpenes from wood samples. Dry wood samples are placed in one end of the MixStix. Upon activation by a crewmember, the wood sample interacts with 6 mL of a 50/50 water and ethanol solution. The MixStix are then stowed until returning to earth where the samples are analyzed.
One of the key questions for space station utilization remains a) whether the unique environment of space can capture the interest of mainstream consumer companies; and b) whether by fostering greater understanding of complex molecules, researchers can shed light on the impact of gravity on basic materials.
The company undertaking the research belongs to a multi-billion dollar consumer company which produces dozens of new products that contain terpenes and other compounds each year. These include beverages, perfumes and cosmetics. Synthetic variations of terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of flavors used in food additives. Another application is that the ingredients of terpenes have been shown to serve as natural agricultural pesticides. Hence, the understanding of terpenes extracted without gravity may well produce new understandings of a wide range of new products and processes. This is expected to be the first of several phases of research, all sponsored by the company.
The experiment is activated by flexing the liquid mixing containers. The experiment is then re-stowed until ready to return on 30S.
A crewmember removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. A MixStix is removed and the crewmember flexes it to break the internal reservoir and release the liquids (flex down the entire length of tube). The crewmember then shakes the MixStix to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all 24 MixStix. Crewmember notes the time of MixStix activation and replaces the tubes back in Module-9. The lid is replaced and secured with the Velcro tabs.
Image Caption 1: NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity MixStix contain a dry wood sample and a 50/50 mixture of water and ethanol. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, LLC.
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Image Caption 2: NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity MixStix are flown inside a Zi0plock bag inside NanoRacks-Module-9. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, LLC.
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