September 2015 Edition
By James Patton Downey
The International Space Station (ISS) provides a long-duration environment for conducting microgravity experiments whose purpose is to examine the effect of heat and mass transport on materials processes.
Most materials are formed from a partially or totally fluid sample, and the transport of heat and mass from the fluid and into the solid inherently influences the formation of the material and its resultant properties. The microgravity environment greatly reduces buoyancy-driven convection, pressure head and sedimentation in fluids. The reduction in these gravity-related sources of heat and mass transport may be used to determine how material processes are affected by gravity-driven and gravitationally-independent sources of heat and mass transfer.
This researcher’s guide provides information on the acceleration environment of the space station and describes facilities available for materials research. Examples of previous microgravity materials research and descriptions of planned research are also provided.
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