The InSPACE-3 experiment continues the
InSPACE-2 studies to determine the lowest energy configurations of the
three dimensional structures of a magnetorheological (MR) fluid under
the influence of pulsed magnetic fields. In particular, InSPACE-3
will investigate the effect of non-spherical super-paramagnetic particles
on the kinetics and formation of these aggregate structures that affect
the visco-elastic properties of MR fluids.
- July 2013 – The second series of runs for InSPACE-3 is tentatively scheduled in July 2013.
February 20, 2013 – InSPACE-3 operated 12 experiment runs for each of the 3 vial types on ISS to complete the 36-run test matrix. Eleven extra science runs were also completed including 3 characteristic runs with no magnetic field. The 47-run series of experiments was completed between October and February 2013.
October 5, 2012 – The
first science run was completed by Astronaut Suni Williams. The vial containing
ellipsoid particle with aspect ratio = 2:1 was exposed to a pulsing magnetic
field at low field strength. Aggregates began to form after approximately
45 minutes, but rate of formation was slower than observed for InSPACE-2 with
similar field strength and pulse frequency. The next science run will test
the same vial in a stronger, pulsed magnetic field at the upper range of the
test matrix with expectations that the aggregates will form in a shorter time
- On August 24, 2012 - Astronaut Suni Williams
completed the installation of the InSPACE hardware in the Microgravity
Science Glovebox (MSG) and checkout.
- On August 16, 2012 - Astronaut Suni Williams successfully replaced
two cameras on the InSPACE optical assembly. The existing InSPACE cameras,
experiencing degradation due to cosmic radiation, were removed and replaced
with two new MSG cameras.
- On July 18, 2012 – Astronaut Suni Williams performed particles distribution (mixing) operations and photographed the on-orbit InSPACE vial assemblies.
- On July 2, 2012 – Astronaut Joe Acaba inspected and photographed the on-orbit InSPACE vial assemblies.
- March 22, 2012 – Astronauts
Chris Hadfield and Kevin Ford were trained the week of January
23 on InSPACE-3 science operations and the camera remove-and-replace
procedures. InSPACE-3 is tentatively
scheduled for the start of operations in the MSG in late August
- October 27, 2011 – InSPACE-3
on-ground vial samples identical to the flight samples continue
to be inspected on a period basis to assess any changes to the
- July 24, 2011 – Two astronauts, Joe Acaba and Sunita
Williams, were trained on the InSPACE hardware in preparation
for flight operations of InSPACE-3 during Increment 32.
- May 16, 2011 – The InSPACE-3 vial assemblies were launched
on the STS 134 Endeavour (Flight ULF-6).
- On February 14, 2011 – InSPACE-3 passed its Engineering
Systems Acceptance Review. The purpose of the review was to obtain
engineering board assessment on the acceptability of the InSPACE-3
hardware to proceed with shipment for flight STS-134 (ULF6 Middeck).
- On November 14, 2010 – a total of
12 vials were installed in flight vial assemblies. The team
is checking for potential leaks on a weekly basis and will select
six of these vial assemblies closer to launch.
- On October 15, 2010 – filling and
sealing of the InSPACE-3 flight vials were completed.
- On April 16, 2009 – the InSPACE-3
completed its Critical Design Review.
17, 2012 – A journal article on InSPACE-2 results
was published on-line in the Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences (PNAS). The reference for the article is:
Swan, J.W. et al., “Multi-scale kinetics of a field-directed
phase transition”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2012
and is open access at the following link: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/11/1206915109.full.pdf+html
21, 2009 – The
InSPACE-2 experiment continues the InSPACE-1 studies to determine
the lowest energy configurations of the three dimensional structures
of a magnetorheological (MR) fluid in a pulsed magnetic fleld. InSPACE-2 completed
its initial set of 42 test runs in 2008. During its initial
runs performed in January and February 2008, a regime of buckling
instability was observed in the three dimensional structures
under particular magnetic field strength and pulse frequency
conditions. In 2009, InSPACE was given the opportunity
to perform additional test runs due to delays in the shuttle
schedule. We took advantage of this opportunity to better
understand this regime of buckling instability
Jan 27, 2009 – InSPACE was successfully installed in the MSG
and 7 test runs (#43-49) were performed by astronauts Sandy Magnus
and Mike Fincke during Increment 18 operations. We were then removed
from the MSG following the last test run.
July 13, 2009 – InSPACE was again installed in the MSG and
between July - August 2009, ten additional test runs (#50-59)
were performed by astronauts Koichi Wakata, Frank DeWinne and
Mike Barratt during Increment 19/20 operations. We were again
removed from MSG following the last test run.
The data from these test runs are currently
being analyzed. In addition, work is continuing on build-up of the InSPACE-3
experiment. The InSPACE-3 experiment will continue the InSPACE-1
and InSPACE-2 studies. In particular, InSPACE-3 will investigate
the three dimensional structure formed by non-spherical super-paramagnetic
colloidal particles in pulsed magnetic fields.
InSPACE is a microgravity fluid physics experiment that will be performed
on the International Space Station (ISS). The purpose of this investigation
is to obtain fundamental data of the complex properties of an exciting
class of smart materials termed magnetorheological (MR) fluids. MR
fluids are suspensions of small (micron-sized) superparamagnetic particles
in a nonmagnetic medium. These controllable fluids can quickly transition
into a nearly solidlike state when exposed to a magnetic field and
return to their original liquid state when the magnetic field is removed.
Their relative stiffness can be controlled by controlling the strength
of the magnetic field. Due to the rapid-response interface that they
provide between mechanical components and electronic controls, MR
fluids can be used to improve or develop new brake systems, seat suspensions,
robotics, clutches, airplane landing gear, and vibration damping systems.
Science Background and Objectives
The purpose of this investigation is
to obtain fundamental data of the complex properties of MR fluids.
Specifically, the goal of InSPACE is to determine the true three-dimensional
low-energy(equilibrium) structure of an MR emulsion in a pulsed magnetic
field. The microstructure of MR fluids plays a significant role in
determining their bulk rheological properties. InSPACE will conduct
a microscopic video study of the MR fluid in a pulsed magnetic field
to determine the effect of varying magnetic field, pulse frequency,
and particle size on the equilibrium microstructures. On Earth, gravity
causes sedimentation, which means heavier groups of particles sink
while lighter ones remain suspended. The low gravity environment that
is provided on the space station facility will eliminate the effects
of sedimentation, which otherwise become significant for these relatively
large aggregate structures. A pulsed magnetic field will be used to
mimic the forces applied to these fluids in real applications, such
as vibration damping systems. A pulsed field also tends to produce
intricate thick structures with different properties than structures
produced by a constant magnetic field. InSPACE will provide fundamental
data characterizing the structures formed in MR fluids. These results
may be utilized to enhance applications on Earth and provide an early
understanding of the behavior of MR fluids in microgravity so as to
aid in the development of highly technical experiments.
The majority of the InSPACE hardware
was launched to the ISS on Flight UF–2/STS–111 (June 5,
2002). The MR samples were launched on Flight 11A/STS–113 (November
23, 2002). Experiment operations by the ISS astronaut crew are scheduled
to occur during ISS Expedition Six and Seven in the Microgravity Science
Glovebox (MSG) that is located in the U.S. Destiny Laboratory Module.
The MSG includes an enclosed work volume that provides power and interfaces
for data and video that can be downlinked to the science team while
the experiment is operating.
Before the flight, three primary Helmholtz
coil assemblies (electromagnets that produce a uniform magnetic field)
and three spares, each with a small precision rectangular borosilicate
glass vial, 50 millimeters long by 1 millimeter internal square, were
outfitted with the MR fluid. Each fluid sample is composed of small,
magnetizable particles of uniform size suspended in an aqueous medium.
The particle sizes are different in each of the three primary coil
assemblies. The crew will install a coil onto an optics assembly that
includes two cameras for imaging the samples from a straight-on and
right-angle view during test runs. The cameras will focus on a very
small area of the vial, only 0.3 millimeters across. A backlighting
system will be used to illuminate the samples.
The astronaut will set a specified electrical current
and frequency on an avionics assembly that will produce a pulsed magnetic
field inside the coil. This magnetic field will cause the particles
in the fluid to group together, or aggregate, and form microstructures
inside the fluid.
For a period of about 1 to 2 hours, the cameras will record the microstructures.
This video will be distributed to the scientists at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and to the Telescience Center at NASA's Glenn
Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where scientists and engineers
will observe the microstructures as they form and change. The video
recorded onboard the ISS will be returned to Earth for more in-depth
analysis. Nine tests will be performed for each coil for a total of
27 experiment runs.
This is the first time this
experiment has been conducted in space. It will provide fundamental
data on the way the particles and aggregate structures in the fluid
respond to a pulsed external magnetic field in a microgravity environment.
When these fluids are used in braking systems and for other electromechanical
devices, they are often exposed to such fields that affect their
operations. The data from the experiment can be used to test theoretical
models of the structure of suspensions of small particles in applied
fields. By understanding the complex properties of these fluids
and learning the way the particles interact, scientists can develop
more sophisticated methods for controlling these fluids and using
them in a variety of devices.
coil assembly is shown being installed in position for testing.
The assembly holds a small vial which contains magnetorheological
hardware mounted in the MSG engineering unit during ground testing.