Nine Experiments to be Executed Aboard the China Space Station

VIENNA (United Nations Information Service) — The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), in cooperation with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) and with the support of the Government of China, published on 28 May 2018 the 1st “Announcement of Opportunity (AO)” under the United Nations/China Cooperation on the Utilization of the China Space Station (CSS) initiative, inviting all Member States of United Nations to submit applications for conducting their scientific experiments on board the CSS.

As of 30 September 2018, which was the application deadline, a total of 42 applications from institutions in 27 countries were received, and then carefully evaluated by around 60 experts from UNOOSA, CMSA and international space community, in line with the eligibility and selection criteria outlined in the first AO. Eighteen (18) projects out of the 42 received were shortlisted, and their Principal Investigators were invited to prepare their Implementation Scheme Proposals (ISPs) for further review towards a final selection. By the submission deadline of 20 April 2019, 15 ISPs from the 18 shortlisted were received and an in-depth review in terms of technical scheme, implementation feasibility, onboard resource requirements, safety analysis, risk analysis, and financial support for their own development was executed.

As a final outcome from the application and selection process, nine experiments were selected for entering preparation and implementation process, among which six were fully accepted, and three were – 2 – conditionally selected. These 9 projects involve 23 institutions from 17 Member States of the United Nations in Asian-pacific, European, African, North American and South American regions, including governmental organizations, private sectors, and international associations.

It is, indeed, great to see that most of the projects are collaborative international efforts reflecting the creativity and commitment of the involved scientists from public and private entities in both developing and developed countries. The research areas involve space life science, biotechnology, microgravity fluid physics, microgravity combustion, astronomy, and space technologies. Details about the selected experiment projects are as follows:

No.1: POLAR-2: Gamma-Ray Burst Polarimetry on the China Space Station

Building on the previous investigation on China’s TG-2 space lab, this project aims to answer the most important open questions in astrophysics regarding the nature of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) by using the most promising investigation approach of polarization measurements allowing to observe even the weakest gamma-ray transients, such as those connected to gravitational waves.

It is an experiment project in astronomy in space. It was applied and will be implemented by four institutions from four countries, which are: The University of Geneva from Switzerland, the National Center for Nuclear Research of Poland, the Max Plank Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics of Germany, and the Institute of High Energy Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

No.2: Spectroscopic Investigations of Nebular Gas (SING)

This project is aimed to map the sky using an ultraviolet long-slit spectrograph by taking advantage of the CSS. It is targeted to the extended nebulae in our own Galaxy, star formation in nearby galaxies and on an even larger scale, the cosmic web.

t is an experiment in astronomy in space. It was applied and will be implemented by two institutions from two countries, which are: The Indian Institute of Astrophysics, and the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

No. 3: Behaviour of Partially Miscible Fluid in Microgravity

This project is aimed to study the concentration diffusion phenomenon during local mixing of unmixed liquid caused by temperature change under microgravity, including droplet migration, accumulation and thermal diffusion caused by Marangoni effect in local mixing area. The theory obtained will guide the industrial process of foundation and understand the complex interface process.

It is an experiment in microgravity fluid physics and combustion. It was applied and will be implemented by two organizations from two countries, namely the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium.

No. 4: Flame Instabilities Affected by Vortices and Acoustic Waves (FIAVAW)

This project is aimed to investigate the instabilities of edge flames in the absence of gravity, as well as the potential control and effects from external flow oscillations taking advantage of the long-duration and buoyancy-free environment onboard the CSS. The research looks at the most fundamental problems of flame stabilisation in a convective flow that is related to aircraft and rocket engine combustion, as well as fire safety problems in space.

It is an experiment project in microgravity fluid physics and combustion. It was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by two institutions from two countries, which are: Tsinghua University from China and the University of Tokyo from Japan.

No. 5: Tumours in Space: Signatures of early mutational events due to space-flight conditions on 3D organoid cultures derived from intra-individual healthy and tumour tissue

This project is aimed to thoroughly test the two important hypotheses: The gravitational force and the galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), respectively, causes a unique mutational signature in the DNA of 3D human organoids derived from intra-individual healthy and colorectal cancer tissue. The results could have a major scientific impact on the current understanding of cancer aetiology and offer new perspectives on prevention and treatment of cancer, including on crew health on long-term deep-space missions.

It is an experiment project in space life sciences and biotechnology. It was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by four institutions from four countries, namely the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, International Space University, Vrije University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and the Belgium Nuclear Research Centre.

No. 6: Effect of Microgravity on the Growth and Biofilm Production of Disease-Causing Bacteria

This project studies the differences between the growth and biofilm production of bacterial colonies grown on Earth and those on board of the China Space Station. It will contribute to understanding how disease-causing bacteria behave on an altered/reduced gravitational environments.

This is an experiment project in space life sciences and bio-technology. It was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by the Mars Society – Peru Chapter, and the Mars Society – Spain Chapter.

No. 7: Mid infrared platform for Earth observations

With this project, two infra-red (MIR) cameras will be installed on the CSS to observe the Earth. It is used to monitor the land and the atmosphere of the Earth. The results could give clue information for a better knowledge of humidity flows and improve forecasting of heavy precipitations and hurricanes for early preventing civil population. It could also obtain experience in the development of payloads for nano-satellites, in order to develop a MIR solar space telescope that could fit in a 3U CubeSat among other scientific projects.

It is an experiment project in Earth science in space. It was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by two organizations from one country, which are: the National Institute of Astrophysics Optics and Electronics (INAOE), and Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) from Mexico.

No. 8: Development of Multi-Juction GaAs Solar Cells for Space Applications

The project is aimed to design and manufacture high-efficiency solar cells. After exposing the solar cells on the outside of the CSS, the comprehensive properties of the solar cell will be investigated and quantitatively measured. The data will support the re-design to mitigate these effects.

It is an experiment project in space utilization technology. It was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by two institutions from one country, which are: the National Center for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) from Saudi Arabia

No. 9: BARIDI SANA – High Performance Micro 2-Phase Cooling System for Space Applications

This project is aimed to conduct research and testing of the next generation of cooling systems for space applications by replacing ordinary liquid cooling loops with two-phase cooling system, taking advantage of the CSS. The cooling agent will be organic and non-toxic, which is a new concept and in particular of high value for human space exploration systems. Thanks to the lower power required to operate the system, it has a strong impact on carbon footprint in ground applications.

It is an experiment in microgravity fluid physics and combustion. It was applied and will be implemented by three institutions from two countries, which are: the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, In Quattro s.r.l. in Italy, and the Machakos University in Kenya.