Space Dynamically Responding Ultrasonic Matrix System (SpaceDRUMS) - 09.17.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone
The goal of Space Dynamically Responding Ultrasonic Matrix System (SpaceDRUMS) is to provide a suite of hardware capable of facilitating containerless advanced materials science, including combustion synthesis and fluid physics. That is, inside SpaceDRUMS® samples of experimental materials can be processed without ever touching a container wall.
Science Results for Everyone
Guigne Space Systems, Incorporated, Paradise, Newfoundland, Canada
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Laboratory (NL)
ISS Expedition Duration
October 2009 - March 2013
Previous ISS Missions
- The initial use of the SpaceDRUMS® payload is designed to conduct a series of combustion synthesis experiments, during which marble-sized pellets of material will be processed to create new materials with unique structures and properties.
- The ultimate accomplishment of the SpaceDRUMS® hardware is to assist with the development of advanced materials of a commercial quantity and quality best achievable in space, initially using space to teach us how to make these exotic materials on earth.
- An already demonstrated capability of the combustion synthesis facilitated by SpaceDRUMS® is the production of advanced porous and glass ceramics for which patents have been awarded. New innovations from this hardware can include a very light and strong new class of porous glass ceramic material, exhibiting high temperature tolerance, controlled porosity, functionally graded and acoustic absorption, and high wear resistance. These materials are ideal for a wide range of potential applications, from dental and bone replacement, noise reduction in engines, filters, cutting tools and drill bits.
The SpaceDRUMS® hardware requires a full EXPRESS rack for deployment and it's components are housed in several Middeck Locker equivalent EXPRESS rack inserts. The center of the hardware is the Sputnik-resembling, spherical sample processing chamber. There is also a sample storage compartment that can store up to five samples before and after processing. The samples are stored in a rotating carousel that can autonomously deliver samples, one after another, to be processed. Sample carousels can be manually replaced and stowed by the ISS crew. The primary processing unit of SpaceDRUMS® is a quad locker EXPRESS rack insert, with four other single locker inserts containing the various electronics, computer processors, acoustic processors, and Argon gas system (used to help create a vacuum in the sample chamber).
SpaceDRUMS® facilitates research and materials processing in a manner that can only be accomplished in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The benefits of SpaceDRUMS® includes not only further scientific understanding of processes like conbustion synthesis and self-propagating high temperature synthesis, but also direct commercial benefits from materials processing. Advanced ceramics, polymer, and colloids can be processed in SpaceDRUMS®.
Any new materials developed using the SpaceDRUMS® technology may have significant applications in space as well as on Earth. Some of the advanced ceramics, lighter and more durable, may have applications in new spacecraft or extraterrestrial outposts, such as bases on the Moon. Advances in fluid physics stemming from SpaceDRUMS® may also have applications in future spacecraft propulsion systems.
An already demonstrated capability of the combustion synthesis facilitated by SpaceDRUMS® is the production of advanced porous and glass ceramics for which patents have been awarded. New innovations from this hardware can include a very light and strong new class of porous glass ceramic material, exhibiting high temperature tolerance, controlled porosity, functionally graded and acoustic absorption, and high wear resistance. These materials are ideal for a wide range of potential applications, from dental and bone replacement, noise reduction in engines, filters, cutting tools and drill bits.
Crew time is required for the initial installation and set-up of SpaceDRUMS® as well as each time the hardware is activated. However, once the ISS crew turns on the power, and loads pellet carousels and debris traps, the ground commanding is all that is required to operate the experiment. Crew time may also be required for cleaning the chamber. Despite some crew time, though, SpaceDRUMS® is a largely autonomous payload.
SpaceDRUMS® is a largely autonomous piece of hardware. Samples for SpaceDRUMS® are contained in a rotating five-chamber carousel. Once the SpaceDRUMS® facility is switched on the by the crew and the carousel is inserted, ground teams command the introduction of a sample from the carousel into the SpaceDRUMS® processing chamber. Before a sample is introduced to the processing chamber, however, argon is used to purge the chamber to ensure no particulate matter interferes with the experiment. Argon is also used as the sound medium and being inert does not react with the sample. Vacuum is used to clear the chamber between experiments. Any small particles removed during the vacuum draw are contained in the SpaceDRUMS® debris trap. All the processing activities are completely self-contained and automated. Once the sample has been processed it is returned to the sample carousel and a new sample can be introduced to the processing chamber. Crew time is required to replace old carousels with new ones containing unprocessed samples. Crew time may also be required the replace debris traps, filters that eliminate particulate matter from the processing chamber.
Ground Based Results Publications
Hart D, Rowsell G. SPACE-DRUMS - Challenges Involved in Quad Locker Integration. Conference and Exhibit on International Space Station Utilization, Cape Canaveral, FL; 2001 5041.
SpaceDRUMS hardware loaded into an ExPRESS Transportation Rack (ETR).
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SpaceDRUMS Processing Module.
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SpaceDRUMS Processing Chamber.
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The dodecahedron combustion chamber shown above is the central part of the Processing Module. It has 20 acoustic transducers attached on the corners and three cameras for providing sample position feedback and for viewing and recording the action. The Processing Module is the quad-locker portion of SpaceDRUMS.
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