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NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene)


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

Experiment Overview

This content was provided by Bill Lumsden, Dr., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Brief Summary

NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) is an investigation sponsored by a commercial organization with the hope of finding new chemical building blocks for their products through microgravity extraction of the terpenes from wood samples.

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Bill Lumsden, Dr., Ardbeg, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)

    Information Pending


    NanoRacks, LLC, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization

    National Laboratory (NL)

    ISS Expedition Duration

    September 2011 - May 2012

    Expeditions Assigned


    Previous ISS Missions

    Information Pending

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) studies terpene extraction in microgravity.

    • Terpenes are major biosynthetic building blocks within nearly every living creature and have multiple applications-such as use in cleaning products, aromatherapy, and various topical preparations.

    • To date, terpenes have not been studied in the space environment, yet they are critical components of major consumer products.


    NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity (NanoRacks-Terpene) is a commercial investigation studying the extraction of terpenes from wood samples. Dry wood samples are placed in one end of the MixStix. Upon activation by a crewmember, the wood sample interacts with 6 mL of a 50/50 water and ethanol solution. The MixStix are then stowed until returning to earth where the samples are analyzed.

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    Space Applications

    One of the key questions for space station utilization remains a) whether the unique environment of space can capture the interest of mainstream consumer companies; and b) whether by fostering greater understanding of complex molecules, researchers can shed light on the impact of gravity on basic materials.

    Earth Applications

    The company undertaking the research belongs to a multi-billion dollar consumer company which produces dozens of new products that contain terpenes and other compounds each year. These include beverages, perfumes and cosmetics. Synthetic variations of terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of flavors used in food additives. Another application is that the ingredients of terpenes have been shown to serve as natural agricultural pesticides. Hence, the understanding of terpenes extracted without gravity may well produce new understandings of a wide range of new products and processes. This is expected to be the first of several phases of research, all sponsored by the company.

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    Operational Requirements

    The experiment is activated by flexing the liquid mixing containers. The experiment is then re-stowed until ready to return on 30S.

    Operational Protocols

    A crewmember removes the Velcro tabs to open the Module-9 lid. A MixStix is removed and the crewmember flexes it to break the internal reservoir and release the liquids (flex down the entire length of tube). The crewmember then shakes the MixStix to mix the liquids thoroughly. Repeat for all 24 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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    Results/More Information

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    Related Websites
  • NanoRacks
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    image Image Caption 1: NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity MixStix contain a dry wood sample and a 50/50 mixture of water and ethanol. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, LLC.
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    image Image Caption 2: NanoRacks-Terpene Extraction in Microgravity MixStix are flown inside a Zi0plock bag inside NanoRacks-Module-9. Image courtesy of NanoRacks, LLC.
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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.