Roundtable: physical research in space and on ground

Editor’s note: These brief extracts are paraphrased from the live webcast and may not be fully correct.

  • Chair: Mike Cruise, ESA-PSWG Chair
  • Hans Fecht, Chaired Professor and Director, Institute of Micro and Nanomaterials, Ulm University
  • David John Jarvis, Head of New Materials & Energy Research, ESA
  • Cécile Gehin-Delval, Research Scientist Nestlé Research Centre
  • Koichi Nishino, Professor at the Departement of Mechanical Engineering, Yokohama National University
  • Mark Uhran, ISS Programme Director, NASA
  • John Banhart, Professor at the Technical University, Berlin, Germany

  • Nestlé, known for coffee and chocolate bars is using ISS research to… improve their products. Foams can be found on coffee, in chocolate mousse and in pet foods for example. Gravity on Earth causes foams to degrade. Understanding foam stability through research on ISS will improve the shelf life of your chocolate mousse.
  • NASA’s Mark Uhran shows how material research is evolving. The past 25 years was spent surveying new materials. 15 years ago research was done on the Space Station on how metal alloys are formed. Two years ago this research resulted in a new alloy that is twice as strong. By the end of this year a new iPhone will use this technology on the mass market.
  • Metal foams, though not as tasty as chocolate foams, offer many benefits. Metal foams are much harder and lighter. Typical uses are in lightweight cranes or absorbing energy in car crashes. All foams are unstable so making metal foams is not an easy process. Gravity and temperature differences cause foam bubbles to burst. Research on the ISS has already allowed foams to be created on Earth using pressure instead of chemical agents leading to more pure final materials.
  • The ‘Satnav problem’ is presented: as soon as space-based technologies become available to users, we forget that they came from space, how do we overcome this?
  • Mark Uhran: We can work far more quickly to test new technologies on the ISS. We should use these opportunities to develop new products.
  • Mike Cruise’s  leaving words : “If you think knowledge is expensive, try living in ignorance for a while.”
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