Fire experiment

About research in space

Gravity affects everything we do on Earth but we know surprisingly little about how it works and how it affects life. Until recently scientists had no way of experimenting without gravity to understand what life would be like without it.

About research in space

Orbiting our planet in an extended free-fall, astronauts on the International Space Station live in microgravity. Through the astronauts up there, scientists are conducting pioneering investigations, testing theories, and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge.

Research in space improves our life on Earth. Space research brings knowledge, discoveries, improvements to our daily life and – one day – the daily lives of explorers of our solar system.

Exploring nature

The studies of life and physical sciences in space are well established fields that complement terrestrial research programmes.

Biology, physiology, fluid physics and combustion, material sciences, fundamental physics and astrobiology are all studied in space, observing how gravity affects basic phenomena on Earth and expanding our knowledge of the world around us.

Improving health

Bedsuit

Space offers unique possibilities to study health problems related to diseases, ageing and immobility.

Research focuses on osteoporosis, muscle atrophy and nutrition, and tries to understand the effects of physiological adaptations for health and safety and find ways to counteract unwanted changes in the human body. Spaceflight is a driving force behind developing advanced medical instruments for monitoring and diagnostics.

Innovating technologies

Microgravity flame

Improving production methods and developing new technologies is essential to keep European industry a leader in the global market.

With the progress made with weightless research over the last decades resulted in a number of experiments that have improved the industrial production processes.

In order to model and improve production methods, it is important to understand how gravity influences processes. A small increase in accuracy of applying the right temperature for example to molten metals or crude oils can have important economic benefits for casting and petrochemical industries.

Understanding the mechanisms behind growing crystals or the behaviour of foams can lead to better production methods and even new materials.

Research into the fundamental properties of our world could develop new technology concepts for the future, based for example on cold-atom or plasma physics technologies.

Caring for the environment

Earth glinting in the sun

Studies in weightlessness can reveal properties that are important for energy production or environmental protection. Space research has already increased knowledge on combustion, liquids in porous substances and how dust particles behave.

These studies are expected to lead to low-pollution high-efficiency combustion in for power plants, aircraft and cars as well as improved crude oil-recovery and innovative air and water purification techniques. Increased knowledge of life-support technology used in spaceflight will make our diets safer.

Last update: 16 December 2014

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