Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) - 08.23.18

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) is one of the major dedicated science facilities inside Destiny. It has a large front window and built-in gloves to provide a sealed environment for conducting science and technology experiments. The Glovebox is particularly suited for handling hazardous materials when the crew is present.
Science Results for Everyone This isn’t your father’s Buick’s glovebox. The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) facility on International Space Station has a large front window and built-in gloves, creating a sealed environment to contain liquids and particles in microgravity for science and technology experiments. More than 30 investigations have used the versatile Glovebox, everything from material science to life sciences. Ports are equipped with rugged, sealed gloves that can be removed when contaminants are not present, and video and data downlinks allow experiments to be controlled from the ground. Researchers also use MSG to test small parts of larger investigations and try out new equipment in microgravity.

The following content was provided by Lee P. Jordan, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: MSG

Facility Manager(s)
Lee P. Jordan, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Information Pending

European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, Netherlands

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ISS Expedition Duration
June 2002 - December 2002; November 2002 - May 2003; April 2003 - April 2004; April 2006 - September 2006; October 2007 - March 2010; September 2011 - March 2016; March 2016 - September 2017; February 2018 - August 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending


  • Onboard
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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) makes it possible to do investigations in micrograity that are similar to those carried out in ground-based laboratories. Without containment, liquids and particles involved in experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS) would float about the cabin. This could cause damage to equipment or harm the crew.
    • Crew members access the work area through ports equipped with rugged, sealed gloves that can be removed when contaminants are not present. A video system and data downlinks allow for control of the enclosed experiments from the ground, if desired.
    • In addition to doing complete, laboratory-like experiments, the MSG allows scientists to test small parts of larger investigations in a microgravity environment and to try out new equipment in microgravity.
    • The MSG can support all key areas of microgravity research as well as other scientific fields. This makes it a useful laboratory resource for scientists in many different fields conducting a wide variety of investigations.
    The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) occupies a floor-to-ceiling rack inside the Destiny module of the ISS. It is more than twice as large as gloveboxes flown on the Space Shuttle and can hold larger investigations that are about twice the size of an airline carry-on bag.

    The Core Facility of MSG occupies the upper half of the overall rack and includes the large work volume (WV), an airlock and electronics for control, housekeeping and investigation resources. The WV holds the experiment and related equipment. The work volume is approximately 3 feet wide (906 mm), 2 feet high (637 mm), and 1.5 feet deep (442 mm) with a usable volume of about 255 liters. This area can be sealed and held at a negative pressure, isolating the crew and the Station from possible hazards associated with the investigations that are taking place inside.

    An airlock under the WV can be accessed to bring objects in safely while other activities are going on inside MSG. The MSG has 40 cm diameter side ports (equipped with rugged gloves that are sealed to prevent leaks) for setting up and manipulating equipment in the WV. A coldplate provides cooling for experiment hardware and the air is continuously circulated and filtered. Experiments are provided with 1 Kw of power and cooling.

    Vacuum, venting, nitrogen gas input (that can keep the oxygen volume at 10 percent or less), power and data interfaces are also provided within MSG. A video system consists of a self-standing subsystem of four color cameras, two monitors, two analog recorders and two digital recorders integrated into an International Subrack Interface Standard (ISIS) drawer. The command and monitoring panel monitors the facility status and performance and provides for manual operation of MSG by the crew.

    In order to support life science research, MSG provides disposable exam gloves and specialized filters for handling typical life-science materials. MSG also has an ultraviolet LED decontamination system that can provide UV exposure suitable for neutralizing BSL-1 and BSL-2 organisms.
    MSG was delivered to ISS during Expedition 5, on March 21, 2008, during Expedition 16, the MSG was relocated to the Columbus module. The MSG accommodates small and medium-sized investigations from any disciplines including biotechnology, combustion science, life sciences, fluid physics, fundamental physics and materials science. Many of these experiments use chemicals, burning or molten materials or other hazards that must be contained.

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    Facility Operations

    • Crew members insert their hands in gloves attached directly to the facility ports. Using gloves, they can safely manipulate samples inside the sealed work area.
    • As investigations are conducted in space, the crew can see inside the glovebox. A video display shows glovebox investigations and the crew can examine samples with a microscope attached to the inside of the work volume.
    • Video is sent to scientists on Earth so they can observe their investigations as they take place in orbit.

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    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

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    Results/More Information

    The MSG has been operating onboard the ISS since July 2002 in support of more than 30 unique investigations for more than 10 years. The MSG has been utilized for a large body of research, including material science, thermal management, protein crystal growth, life sciences, fire detection, combustion, and technology demonstration for ESA, JAXA and NASA. The versatility of the resources MSG provides makes it an ideal platform for microgravity research (Spivey 2006 - 2008).

    Results Publications

      Morris KB, Spivey RA.  An Overview of the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) Facility, and the Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Research Performed in the MSG on the International Space Station (ISS). 59th International Astronautical Congress. Glasgow, Scotland; 2008

      Spivey RA, Jeter LB, Vonk C.  The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), a Resource for Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Research on the International Space Station (ISS). 45th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV; 2007

      Spivey RA, Sheredy WA, Flores GN.  An Overview of The Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) Facility, and the Gravity-Dependent Phenomena Research Performed in the MSG on the International Space Station. 46th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV; 2008

      Spivey RA, Luz PL.  The Microgravity Science Glovebox as a Platform for Exploration Research on the International Space Station. 44th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit. Reno, NV; 2006

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites

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    image NASA Image: ISS008E20622 - Expedition 8 Commander and Science Officer Michael Foale conducts an inspection of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.
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    image NASA Image: ISS008E05029 - Over the shoulder view of European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Pedro Duque as he works at the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Cervantes mission experiment PromISS 2 in the Destiny U.S. Laboratory during joint operations with the Expedition 7 and Expedition 8 crews.
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    NASA Image: ISS018E017303 - View of the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox (MSG) with the Shear History Extensional Rheology Experiment (SPHERE) inside.

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    image NASA Image: ISS029E040016 - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, Expedition 29 flight engineer, works at the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.
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