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Observation and Analysis of Smectic Islands in Space (OASIS)

OASIS logoObjective:

To exploit the unique characteristics of freely suspended liquid crystals in a microgravity environment to advance the understanding of fluid state physics.


The OASIS experiment held and passed its Preliminary Design Review in March 2012 and is scheduled for a Critical Design Review in March 2013 and a Systems Acceptance Review in June 2014 that will culminate  in launch of the flight experiment to the International Space Station in the last quarter of 2014, depending on carrier availability.


Currently an important unsolved problem ferroelectric liquid crystal micro-displays in the space helmets is the annealing of dislocations generated when the smectic layers are formed on the transparent viewing screen of the display unit. The proposed liquid crystal bubble experiments resolve the annealing dislocation problem of smectic ferroelectric liquid crystal micro-displays, one of the key aspects of generating well aligned electro-optic devices. It will improve the contrast, resolution and response time of the liquid crystal display devices that are currently used on the Helmet Mounted and Head Up display systems.

Development Approach:

  • The OASIS flight instrument will be designed to interface and operate within the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).
  • OASIS will be designed for autonomous operation through scripts and ground commanding. Crew time is required for initial installation, checking sample loading and bubble/island formation.
  • A Protoflight approach, including engineering modules will be used for flight hardware development and a high fidelity operational trainer will also be designed.


Islands on 1cm bubble


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OASIS Quad Chart



OASIS Experiment Module Functional Schematic

The OASIS Experiment Module contains four (4) air jets which also contain electrodes (on two air jets) and a heater/cooler tandem (on the other two air jets), a water/glycerol injector, macro and micro cameras, and heater banks to manipulate the islands. The Data Acquisition and Control Unit (DACU) will control the experiment via ISS OASIS laptop and perform data storage.

Experiment Module

OASIS Experiment Module (Pro-E Solid Model)

The OASIS Experiment Module above details two views of the assembly. On the right, the MSG GN2 (Gaseous Nitrogen) line is shown at the lower left of the assembly. The air jets, illuminating white light LED panels, and bubble chamber are shown with the external housing semi-transparent for clarity. In the assembly on the right hand side, a closer view of the bubble chamber shows the injector and macro view camera.



Principal Investigator: Prof.Noel Clark, University of Colorado

European Principal Investigator: Prof. Ralf Stannarius

Co-Investigators: Prof. Joe Maclennan, Prof. Matt Glaser, University of Colorado

Contacts at NASA Glenn Research Center
Project Manager: Nancy R. Hall, NASA GRC

Project Scientist: Dr.Padetha Tin

Engineering Team: ZIN Technologies, Inc.

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OASIS Related Documents
small acrobat icon   OASIS Quad Chart
small acrobat icon OASIS SRD

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Tim Reckart
NASA Official: Thomas St. Onge
Last Updated: August 9, 2012
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