Space Experiment Module (SEM) - 07.29.14

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery
ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Space Experiment Module (SEM) introduces students to the concept of performing space based research on ISS. SEM provides students with the opportunity to conduct their own research on the effects of microgravity, radiation and space flight on various materials.

Science Results for Everyone

What would you send into space? This investigation lets high school students determine objectives and conduct research on the effects of microgravity, radiation, and space flight on various materials. The students are given 20 vials and allowed to select items to go into them. They choose everything from seeds to chicken bones, copper, plastic, human hair, and brine shrimp eggs, using the items to test hypotheses on seed growth after microgravity exposure, how materials protect against radiation exposure, and survival rates of microscopic life forms. Eleven schools and 300 students developed experiments for the first group of vials sent into space and returned to the students for analysis.



This content was provided by Ruthan Lewis, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details

OpNom

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Ruthan Lewis, Ph.D., Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
    Information Pending
    Developer(s)
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    October 2004 - April 2007

    Expeditions Assigned
    10,11,13,14

    Previous ISS Missions
    SEM has a long history of space flight. It has flown on 11 Space Shuttles, including STS-107 (Columbia), which was lost in 2003 and ISS Expeditions 10-11 and 13.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Provide student opportunities to conduct research on the effects of microgravity, radiation, and space flight on various materials.


    • Research objectives for each experiment are determined by the students, but generally include hypothesis on changes in the selected materials due to the space environment.


    • Students are provided "Space Capsules" to contain passive test articles for flight. The capsules are then packed in satchels (10 per satchel) which contain special formed foam layers for flight.
  • Description
    The Space Experiment Module (SEM) provided high school students with an opportunity to conduct research on the effects of microgravity, radiation, and space flight on various materials. Research objectives for each experiment were determined by students but generally include hypotheses on changes in selected materials due to the space environment. This was achieved by providing students space capsules that contained passive test articles for flight. These capsules were clear, sealable polycarbonate vials, 1 inch in diameter and 3 inches in depth. The vials were packed in satchels (20 per satchel) that contain special formed foam layers for flight.

    Students selected the items that were contained inside the vials. Some of the items included seeds, such as corn, watermelon, cucumber, beans, peas, and several other vegetables. Additional items included materials, such as wool, Kevlar, silk, ultraviolet beads, chicken bones, copper, plastic, dextrose, yeast, over-the-counter medications, human hair, mineral samples, light bulbs, and brine shrimp eggs. Many students tested seed growth after microgravity exposure; other students tested how materials protect against radiation exposure and survival rates of microscopic life forms.

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    Applications

    Space Applications
    SEM introduces the concept of space-based scientific experiments to the next generation.

    Earth Applications
    Eleven schools are running experiments on the first Space Experiment Module (SEM) satchel flight. The experiments are contained in clear polycarbonate vials. These vials are also flown in passive (no power required) SEM experiment modules. Students create their own experiments, and consider such variables as space radiation, microgravity and launch environment. SEM is educating and inspiring the next generation to take the journey.

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    Operations

    Operational Requirements
    On orbit the satchels are placed in passive stowage on the ISS for one stage. At some point during the stage, a crew member will remove the satchels and - using a video camera - will take videos of the experiment capsules and describe their contents and student interests. These videos will be down-linked to the ground for use by the students in their analysis.

    Operational Protocols
    SEM will not require any crew interaction.

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    Results/More Information

    Eleven schools and 300 students developed experiments for SEM Satchel 001. The satchel was launched during ISS Expedition 10 in December 2004 and returned to Earth on Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-114) in August 2005. The sample vials were returned to the students for analysis. (Evans et al. 2009)

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    Related Websites

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    Imagery

    image NASA Image: ISS010E12594 - This image shows an integrated SEM Satchel on ISS during Increment 10 taken by ISS commander Leroy Chiao.
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    image NASA Image: ISS010E12597 - This image shows a close up of vials 11-15 of the SEM Satchel on ISS during Increment 10.
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    image NASA Image: ISS011E05374 - Wide angle image of the SEM satchel taken by ISS Expedition 11 Science Officer, John Phillips.
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    image NASA Image: ISS011E05380 - Close up image of SEM samples 16-20 taken by ISS Expedition 11 Science Officer, John Phillips.
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    image NASA Image: ISS013E54207 - Image of SEM satchel floating in the U.S. Lab during ISS Expedition 13 by Science Officer, Jeff Williams.
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    image NASA Image: ISS013E54212 - This image shows integrated SEM Satchels on ISS during Increment 13 taken by the NASA ISS Science Officer, Jeff Williams.
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