Microgravity Science Glovebox

ESA astronaut Pedro Duque with Microgravity Science Glovebox in 2003

To most people a glovebox is a compartment in the dashboard of a car where manuals, road atlases, various oddments and even occasionally gloves are stored. ESA's Microgravity Science Glovebox is a far more complicated piece of equipment.

The device allows astronauts on the International Space Station to perform a wide range of experiments in a fully sealed and controlled environment, completely isolated from the rest of the Station. It shares nevertheless the weightlessness of orbit.

The gloves are the access points through which astronauts manipulate experiments, in the field of material science, biotechnology, fluid science, combustion science and crystal growth research.

Scientific gloveboxes are common on Earth. To build a glovebox that will last at least ten years in weightlessness, however, was a much tougher proposition. The Microgravity Science Glovebox had to fit in a standard International Space Station equipment rack and be versatile enough to accommodate a huge range of experiments and materials - including a few that no one had thought of during the design stage.

After being carried into space inside the Multi Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo in the cargo bay of Space Shuttle Endeavour in June 2002, the Microgravity Science Glovebox was installed in the US Destiny lab. The Microgravity Science Glovebox was subsequently moved to ESA's Columbus laboratory after the European module was installed in February 2008. Since then the module has been returned to the Destiny laboratory.

Microgravity Science Glovebox was built by Astrium in Bremen, Germany.

Microgravity Science Glovebox
Microgravity Science Glovebox

Microgravity Science Glovebox  
Working volume 255 litres
Largest access volume 40 cm diameter
Pressure environment in cabin Negative pressure with air circulation and filtration
Airlock module capability for transfer of payload and equipment Maximum 40 litres
Power + 120 Vdc, + 28 Vdc,
+/- 12 Vdc, 5 Vdc
Video link (analogue) Yes
Video cameras 4
Video recorder 3 + 1 hard disc
Gaseous nitrogen Yes
Vacuum and venting Yes
Cooling Up to 200 W by air
Up to 800 W by cold plate

Last update: 7 February 2013

Copyright 2000 - 2014 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.