Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lift-off for Foton microgravity mission

17.09.2007
An unmanned Foton spacecraft, carrying a payload of more than 40 ESA experiments, was successfully launched earlier today. The Soyuz-U launcher lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 13:00 CEST (11:00 GMT).

Nearly 9 minutes later, the Russian Foton-M3 spacecraft separated from the rocket's upper stage and was inserted into a 300 km orbit that will carry it around the Earth once every 90 minutes. The Foton will spend 12 days in orbit, during which time the onboard experiments will be exposed to microgravity, and in some cases, to the harsh environment of open space, before re-entering the atmosphere and landing on the steppes near the Russian-Kazakh border.

The 400 kg European payload includes experiments that will contribute to advances in many areas of research. The scientific experiments come from a wide range of scientific disciplines, including fluid physics, biology, protein crystal growth, meteoritics, radiation dosimetry and exobiology (life beyond Earth). The technology-related experiments may lead to more efficient oil extraction processes, better semiconductor alloys and more efficient thermal control systems.

"The Foton mission is part of ESA’s programme for Life and Physical Sciences in spaceexplained Josef Winter, Head of ESA's Payload and Microgravity Platform Division.

"The mission provides an important opportunity for European researchers to conduct a wide variety of experiments in microgravity prior to the availability of ESA's ISS module, Columbus. In total, the Foton-M3 mission is carrying 43 scientific and technological payloads supplied by ESA, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Canada, as well as a number of Russian experiments."

One of the more unusual European payloads is the ESA/DLR Aquahab experiment, an aquatic habitat that will be used to observe the effects of weightlessness on a single cell organism, Euglena gracilis, and a small cichlid fish.

The Biobox payload consists of two programmable incubators containing five experiments on cell biology. Three of these will study the effects of weightlessness on bone-forming cells and bone-degrading cells. A fourth experiment will study the damaging effects of space radiation on skin tissue, while another aims to understand the effects of weightlessness on connective tissue cells.

Two more incubators are included in Eristo/Osteo, a joint ESA/Canadian Space Agency project. The two sets of identical hardware contain four thermally controlled experiment trays that will be used to test and evaluate the effects of drugs and growth factors on bone cell activity.

The Franco-Belgian TEPLO experiment aims to measure the performance and characteristics of new designs of heat pipe in weightlessness. This kind of technology should help to significantly reduce the mass and complexity of thermal control subsystems used in space.

On the spacecraft's exterior is a multi-user experimental facility called Biopan, which is designed to automatically expose its ten experiments to the harsh environment of space for the duration of the mission. Attached to the Foton's heat shield are the Stone-6 and Lithopanspermia experiments in which pieces of rock containing living organisms will be exposed to the extreme temperatures and pressures experienced during re-entry.

Also on the outside of the Foton, attached to its battery module, is an ambitious experiment known as the second Young Engineers' Satellite (YES2). Led by ESA's Education Office, some 450 students from ESA Member States and beyond have worked with prime contractor Delta-Utec to design and build the 36 kg payload.

On 25 September, as the Foton mission nears its end, YES2 will deploy a 30 km tether, the longest ever flown in space. A small re-entry capsule released from the end of the tether will be used to demonstrate the possibility of returning small payloads to Earth at a fraction of the cost of current methods.

Markus Bauer | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMQDB13J6F_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>