Kubik incubators
The Kubik incubators

KUBIK consists of a small controlled temperature volume, which can function both as an incubator or cooler (+6°C to +38°C temperature range). Additionally, self contained automatic experiments can be performed using power provided by the facility. A centrifuge insert permits simultaneous 1g control samples to be run in parallel with microgravity samples.

Experiments interface with the centrifuge insert via small standardized containers; therefore experiments need to be designed to fit inside these containers. Alternatively, if an onboard centrifuge control is not need it is possible to interface larger, dedicated experiment hardware with KUBIK via an interface plate.

There are no data or command communication possibilities between the experiments and KUBIK, which only provides controlled temperature and electrical power to the experiments. Therefore, the experiment hardware needs to be designed to operate automatically. Alternatively, it is possible to use manually operated experiment hardware which the crew removes from the incubator for operations. KUBIK incubators can also be potentially operated powered in Soyuz providing a means of maintaining controlled temperature and perform automatic experiments from a few hours prior to launch until docking.

Technical features

Kubik centrifuge configuration
Kubik with centrifuge configuration loaded with experiment containers

The container is a cubic box (366x366x366 mm) composed (from top to bottom) of:

  • The thermal chamber (260x260x138 mm internal dimensions);
  • The thermal structure (Peltiers, fans and exchangers);
  • The electronic boxes (used to control incubator and inserts).

The main capabilities of KUBIK are:

  • Settable temperature between +6°C and +38°C in 0.1°C increments (KUBIK FM1 & FM2 are limited to +18°C to +38°C)
  • Removable inserts.

The design is such that mounting and dismounting of the insert by the astronauts is made easy. Reconfiguration in orbit is possible. KUBIK has been operated in previous missions as a stand alone facility in the Russian segment of the ISS. However, the newly developed.

KUBIK Interface Drawer (KID) allows KUBIK incubators to be operated inside of the Columbus module European Drawer Rack (EDR).

For more information about the KUBIK facility, contact:

Scientific issues
Jason P Hatton (ESA Biology Science coordinator)
Jason.Hatton @ esa.int

Technical issues
Giorgio Crippa (ESA Technical Officer)
Giorgio.Crippa @ esa.int

More about KUBIK

For more detailed information about KUBIK, download the full
KUBIK description (pdf) »»

Last update: 13 May 2009

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