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Press Release 96-04

Lori J. Rachul
NASA Lewis Research Center


CLEVELAND, OH -- When the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-75) is launched on February 22, 1996, the Lewis Research Center will be its prime customer.

For STS-75, Lewis is providing and managing:
  • two of the four major microgravity science experiments;
  • all three of the microgravity combustion experiments; and
  • two acceleration measurement devices to characterize the microgravity environment during flight.

The Lewis experiments are part of the third United States Microgravity Payload (USMP-3), which is one of a series of space shuttle missions designed to conduct a microgravity research program that will improve our understanding of materials science and condensed matter physics.

Nestled in Columbia's payload bay and in a glovebox on the orbiter's middeck, Lewis' microgravity experiments will provide a better understanding of materials science and fluid physics in a reduced gravity environment. With a greater understanding of what happens when metals, alloys and electronic materials are melted and then solidified in a reduced gravity environment, the future of manufacturing technology could be enhanced and is therefore of interest to metal and electronic component producing companies.

During the STS-75 mission, the USMP-3 experiments will operate primarily by remote control from the new Telescience Support Center at the Lewis Research Center, the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, or the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

"The Lewis experiments on this mission build upon our previous success on recent shuttle flights. We're especially excited to conduct experiments on the shuttle directly from Lewis' Telescience Support Center. Telescience will allow researchers to locally operate the experiments as if they were in orbit. This is a significant step in preparing for the space station era, where scientists will be located in their labs here on Earth while their experiments are conducted in space," said Sue Motil, spokesperson for the Space Experiments Division.

Lewis experiments flying as part of the USMP-3 mission are:

The Critical Fluid Light Scattering Experiment, nicknamed Zeno in honor of the Greek philosopher who first pondered the paradox of infinity, will measure fluctuations in the density of xenon at a condition when it is simultaneously a gas and a liquid--its "critical point." Understanding how matter behaves at the critical point may provide insight into a variety of physics problems ranging from phase changes in fluids to changes in the composition and magnetic properties of solids. Project Manager Dr. Richard Lauver resides in Rocky River. Project Scientist Dr. R. Allen Wilkinson resides in Cleveland Heights.

The Isothermal Dendritic Growth Experiment (IDGE) will test fundamental assumptions concerning dendritic solidification of molten materials. Dendrites are tiny branching structures that form inside molten metal alloys when they solidify during manufacturing. The size, shape and orientation of the dendrites determine the strength and durability of steel, aluminum and superalloys used in manufacturing automobiles and airplanes. Project Manager Diane Malarik resides in Independence. Project Scientist Edward Winsa resides in Parma.

The Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) will measure the very slight acceleration forces on the shuttle orbiter as it drifts in space. These forces are typically one one-thousandth of the gravitational force on Earth. SAMS will measure, record and downlink disturbances caused by crew activity, equipment operation and thruster firings. By measuring and analyzing microgravity disturbances, scientists hope to determine how these disturbances influence experiment results. Project Manager Ronald Sicker resides in Huron. Project Scientist Richard DeLombard resides in Avon Lake.

Working in conjunction with SAMS, the Orbiter Acceleration Research Experiment (OARE) will record small accelerations caused by atmospheric drag on the orbiter, residual gravity gradient forces and other frequency disturbances. Project Manager Bill Wagar resides in Medina. The Project Scientist is Richard DeLombard.

The Forced-Flow Flamespreading Test (FFFT) will identify the effect of low-speed flows and bulk fuel temperature on the flammability, ignition, flame growth and flame spreading behavior of solid fuels in a microgravity environment. Glovebox Investigator Kurt Sacksteder resides in North Royalton. Co-Investigator Paul Greenburg resides in Cleveland Heights. Co-Investigator Dr. Paul Ferkul resides in Fairview Park.

The Radiative Ignition and Transition to Spread Investigation (RITSI) will conduct an experimental study of the radiative ignition and subsequent transition to flame spread in low gravity in the presence of very low-speed air flows in two-dimensional and three-dimensional configurations. Glovebox Co-Investigator Sandra Olson resides in Westlake.

The Comparative Soot Diagnostics (CSD) experiment will examine particulate formation from a variety of particulate sources and to quantify the performance of several diagnostic techniques. Glovebox Investigator Dr. David Urban resides in Shaker Heights. Co-Investigator Dr. DeVon Griffin resides in Granger Township.

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