SEDS Canada Reduced Gravity Experiment Flights Underway

File photo: NRC, SEDS Canada and CSA personnel with the Falcon 20 jet which will be used to perform the microgravity research. Credit: SEDS Canada.
Of the 21 university teams that entered the Canadian Reduced Gravity Experiment Design Challenge (CAN-RGX), four will get a chance to fly to their microgravity experiments today thanks to the collaboration between Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) Canada, the National Research Council and the Canadian Space Agency

According to SEDS Canada, the “CAN-RGX is a competition for Canadian post-secondary students to design and test a small scientific experiment on board the National Research Council (NRC) Falcon-20, which has been modified for reduced gravity flight in association with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).”

The four teams who will have the opportunity to fly their experiments are Team COSM of Carleton University, Team iSSELAB of the University of Alberta, Project STARFOX of the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team and, Team AVAIL of the University of Toronto.

Up first today are Team AVAIL and Team iSSELAB. Up tomorrow are Project STARFOX and Team COSM.

Team iSSELAB – University of Alberta

Interfacial Science and Surface Engineering Lab (iSSELAB) experiment: The recent upsurge in additive manufacturing and 3-D printing has become an alternative solution for numerous on-board challenges. However, little is understood about the behaviour in micro-gravity of the materials involved. Therefore, it is imperative to understand and investigate the processes underlying the 3-D printing process in micro-gravity conditions such as curing or crystallization. In this project, we will observe the process similar to curing through a freezing mechanism and, based on the morphological changes in the frozen drop shape we will comment on the alterations in the crystallization process due to the reduced gravity environment.

Team COSM – Carleton University

Carleton Off-Planet Specialized Mining (COSM) experiment: The proposed experiment aims to collect data about the effectiveness of different dust collection methods in low-gravity environments. The objective comes from previous research and evidence that shows the negative effects of dust in space on both equipment and personnel. The COSM team plans to drill into lunar and Martian regolith simulant with a hammer drill encased inside an aluminum support frame. This will release large quantities of dust, at which point two different collection mechanisms will be implemented. Once the experiment has been run successfully, the team is confident the data collected will be helpful in determining the effectiveness of different systems of dust mitigation. The analyses from this data will be central to designing equipment for future space research that effectively deals with harmful dust contamination.

Project STARFOX – University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team

Spinning Terrestrial-Analog Regolith Filtering Operation Experiment (STARFOX): The University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team (USST) is a multidisciplinary student group focused on planetary exploration and the democratization of space technology. Those members of the USST who make up the STARFOX project’s team conceptualized the project with the objective of establishing mineral processing methods suitable for microgravity environments. The team’s working hypothesis is that existing terrestrial mineral screening and separation methods may be modified to apply in microgravity. For this purpose, an axially rotating apparatus is being designed to generate centrifugal force for mineral screening. A rotating cylinder is used to force mineral particles through two screens, into the screens’ respective collection bins. The apparatus will be ground-tested and flight-tested to both optimize its design and better understand the dynamics of screening in a microgravity environment.

Team AVAIL – University of Toronto

Analyzing Viscosity and Intertia in Liquids (AVAIL) experiment: The objective of Team AVAIL is to investigate the coiling properties of various liquids under a microgravity environment. The coiling of liquids is a result of the coupling of the intermolecular forces within a liquid, namely the inertia, viscosity and surface tension which act to maintain the shape of a liquid column; and the external forces such as gravity which act to stretch the column like a rope. This experiment aims to show the effect of a reduced gravity environment on the tendency and behavior of coiling liquids. We expect this experiment to demonstrate the effect of a microgravity environment on the rope coiling of liquids; in particular, we expect liquids to sustain a longer column before buckling and a reduced coiling frequency.

You can follow the progress of today’s and tomorrow’s flights on the SEDS Canada Facebook and Twitter.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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