NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space (NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space) - 11.22.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Crystals are important for a wide range of technologies on Earth, from medical research to accurate clocks, but gravity affects how crystals grow, limiting the ability to grow them on Earth. In microgravity, crystals can be grown larger and with better symmetry than those on Earth. NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space grows sugar crystals in microgravity and compares them with sugar crystals formed on the ground.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Raz Itzhaki Tamir, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-9 S/N 1010

Principal Investigator(s)
Raz Itzhaki Tamir, Ph.D., NSL Satellites Ltd, Raanana, Israel

Information Pending

NanoRacks LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - March 2014

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space tests the quality and difference between Earth and Space grown sugar crystals.
  • NanoRacks-NSL Satellites-Rock Candy in Space aims to enhance youth involvement in research and innovation in science, technology, engineer and mathematics (STEM) education.
  • NanoRacks-NSL Satellites-Rock Candy in Space chose sugar crystals since they are "easy" growers thus giving a high chance of success.


Crystals are used in everyday life on Earth and in space, from accurate frequency makers, to accurate clock timing devices and pharmaceutical medicines.  Crystals can be found in nature but are also a manmade component.  It is interesting to investigate the quality and size of crystal growth under microgravity conditions as opposed to on ground ones. The three dimensional characteristic could change in space microgravity.
The students have performed sugar crystal growing in the classroom successfully and now have transferred the experiment into the MixStix for the NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space investigation to be activated on the International Space Station.  The students predict more symmetric and larger crystals will form in microgravity than on Earth.

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Space Applications
Communications satellites are among the many users and producers of high-quality crystals, which are used in satellite frequency oscillators. Results demonstrate whether microgravity affects the three-dimensional structure of sugar crystals. This provides insight into crystal growth and stability in microgravity, improving space-based communications.

Earth Applications
High-quality crystals are important for drug development, accurate timekeeping, biology research, and more, but complex, man-made crystals can be difficult to grow on Earth. Comparing microgravity-grown crystals with those grown on Earth provide new insight into crystal formation, benefiting a wide range of industries and people on Earth.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

The MixStix are unclamped to activate.  

A crewmember removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. The crewmember unclamps the fasteners on the MixStix as directed, enabling the materials in the various chambers to flow. The crewmember then shakes the MixStix  (when directed) to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all 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.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space ground tests of sugar crystallization.  Image courtesy of NSL Satellites Ltd.

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NanoRacks-NSL Satellites Ltd-Rock Candy in Space MixStix with sugar saturated solution and sugar grain ready for flight. Image courtesy of NSL Satellites Ltd.

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