What experiments can be undertaken?
The overwhelming influence of gravity on any process on Earth makes microgravity a subject of the highest interest in many topics. By reducing the effect of gravity it is possible to investigate other parameters or processes that are difficult to study in the presence of gravity.
Examples of topics that benefit greatly from research in microgravity include:
- Fluid physics: dynamics, change of phase, films, interfaces, bubbles and droplets, etc.
- Chemistry and biochemistry: proteins, chemical patterns, etc.
- Biology: organic compounds, seeds, bioprocessing, etc.
- Medicine (under certain conditions): physiology of the vestibular, respiratory and cardiopulmonary systems, possibilities of diagnostic telemedicine in space, etc.
- Material sciences: alloys, foams, granular systems and porous media, composites, etc.
- Heat transfer: evaporation, condensation, convection, conduction, etc.
- Astrophysics: cosmic dust, plasmas, planet formation, etc.
Note that experiments involving complex free-floating or flying mechanisms are unlikely to be accepted. Artistic or fun performances will be disregarded.
In a change from the last editions of the programme, medically-related scientific proposals will be accepted but will require an evaluation concerning the ethical and operational aspects of the experiment by the ESA Medical Board, an accreditation from a local ethical committee and additional paper work compared to the technical standard documentation for a parabolic flight experiment.
Biological experiments on vertebrate animals can be proposed, although the authorization for working with such animals is still under assessment. Genetically modified organisms will not be accepted.
Please note that the conditions detailed above are subject to change without prior notice.