The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) is a complementary fluid physics research facility designed to host investigations in areas such as colloids, gels, bubbles, wetting and capillary action, and phase changes, including boiling and cooling.Facility Manager(s)
Facility Developer(s) Information PendingSponsoring Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Expeditions Assigned
19/20,21/22,23/24,25/26,27/28,29/30,31/32,35/36Previous ISS Missions
The Fluids Integrated Rack is one of two powered racks that compose the Fluids and Combustion Facility (FCF) on the International Space Station (ISS). The other rack is the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR). The FCF accommodates the unique challenges of working with fluids and combustion processes in microgravity and provides services and capabilities comparable to those found in traditional Earth-based laboratories. To isolate the delicate experiments that are conducted within the FCF from the vibration caused by the ISS systems and crew, the CIR employs the Passive Rack Isolation System (PaRIS), and the FIR employs the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) that has been used extensively by the EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) racks on the ISS. The FCF is a permanent, modular, multiuser facility that accommodates microgravity science experiments onboard the ISS. The FCF supports sustained, systematic research in the disciplines of fluid physics and combustion science.
The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) features a large, user-configurable volume for experiments. The volume resembles a laboratory optics bench. An experiment can be built up on the bench from components, attached as a self-contained package, or a combination of the two. The FIR provides data acquisition and control, sensor interfaces, laser and white light sources, advanced imaging capabilities, power, cooling, and other resources. Astronauts can quickly mount and set up the experiment, and final operations can be accomplished by remote control from the FCF Telescience Support Center at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, or from the principal investigator's home institution. The FIR offers crewmembers easy access to the back of the optics bench for maintenance and experiment reconfiguration.
The FIR is built to accommodate a wide range of experiments. The fluid physics research focuses on complex fluids, interfacial phenomena, dynamics and instabilities, multiphase flows, and phase changes. Investigations range from fundamental research to technology development in support of the NASA exploration missions and include include life support, power, propulsion, and thermal control systems. The FIR minimizes upmass by using different modules that can support various types of experiments.
The first experiments on the FIR will make use of the Light Microscopy Module (LMM). The LMM is an automated microscope that allows flexible imaging (e.g., bright field, dark field, phase contrast) for physical and biological experiments and can be controlled remotely (commanded from the ground). The LMM accommodates sample changeout and fluid containment and includes a glovebox for on-orbit sample manipulation. This unique capability can support a large set of experiments that require visual imaging of a small test sample. The initial experiment in the LMM was designed to better understand heat transfer in the design of lightweight radiators.
The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) is designed to use minimal crew time during on-orbit operation. The crew will participate in reconfigurations that are specific to each experiment. Reconfiguration consists of installing experiment hardware and configuring the diagnostic equipment on the optics bench. After the experiment is installed, the overall operation is controlled by ground teams at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH. Changeouts of test cells and experiment resources are performed periodically by the ISS crewmembers. Most of the data (images and diagnostic data) is transmitted to the ground. The data hard drives in the FIR are easily replaced on-orbit if needed.
Moss L, Just M, Grodsinsky C, Heese J, Humphreys BT. Microgravity Environment Predictions and Control for the Fluids Integrated Rack. AIAA; 2004