|Crew member Peggy Whitson installed the Microgravity Science Glovebox during Expedition 5.|
Capabilities: A Teamwork Concept
The Materials Science Glovebox (MSG) is designed to accommodate small science and technology experiments in a "workbench" type environment. After the crew installs experiment hardware in the work volume, the investigation can be accessed by the crew on-orbit through sealed glove-ports, and by scientists on Earth through space-to-ground voice and data links.
This facility is well suited for a wide range of microgravity research, including fluid physics, combustion science, materials science, biotechnology, fundamental physics, and other investigations attempting to gain an initial understanding of the role of gravity in basic physical and chemical interactions.
Conducting Research in the MSG Work Volume
The work volume is designed to slide forward on rails that extend out of the rack to form an enclosed "table-top" for experiment containment and operation. Experiments are mounted to the floor of the working area (approximately 90 by 50 centimeters in size) and can be connected to the utilities available on the back wall. Two round glove ports provide access to the work area. Once assembly is complete, the ports can be sealed to prevent possible hazardous materials from escaping into the crew area in the module. A third, smaller glove port leads to an integral airlock that allows items to be passed in and out of the work area without breaking the sealed containment. This arrangement allows scientific hardware to be constructed in close parallel with bench-type investigations performed in ground-based laboratories. Scientists can develop hardware that corresponds to their traditional laboratory experience and can conduct meaningful space-based research using MSG's utilities.
Resources for Experiment Operation
|MSG in full operation with its first experiment Solidification Using a Baffle in a Sealed Ampoule (SUBSA)|
MSG provides a comprehensive set of experiment utilities including power, data acquisition, computer communications, vacuum, nitrogen, and specialized tools. One notable feature is the system's substantial video, data acquisition, and command and control capabilities. Up to four color cameras are available for viewing and recording of experiment processes. Flat screen monitors (visible in front of the unit at the right) can monitor any two of these cameras and simultaneously share the views with the investigator on the ground. The entire system is controllable through computer interfaces by either the onboard MSG computer or via the ISS data system from the ground. A standard commercial laptop computer (visible outside and just to the right of the work volume) is available to control an installed experiment and provide for data acquisition. The arrangement allows for standard ground laboratory software to be utilized as the primary interface to the operation. These control and data functions can be initiated and monitored from the ground by the investigator.