Science & Exploration

Physical science and Earth observation

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Cervantes Mission

This experiment studies zeolites. Zeolites are microporous crystalline solids with well-defined structures or containing pores. Many occur naturally as minerals, and are extensively mined in many parts of the world. Others are synthetic, and are made commercially since they have a full variety of applications --as catalysts, for example, depending on the size of their pores.

The goal of NANOSLAB is to analyse the process of formation of a zeolite structure from two separate materials: an ammonium hydroxide and an aluminium silicate. Principal Investigator: J. Martens (Belgium).


PROMISS experiment - examples of protein crystals in solution
PROMISS experiment - examples of protein crystals in solution

PROMISS will investigate the growth processes of proteins during weightless conditions. The experiment will use special techniques, which produce efficient protein growth during weightlessness. The primary objective of the experiment is to see how growth conditions influence the quality of the crystals. Advanced imaging methods such as digital holography will be used. Principal Investigator: I. Zegers (Belgium).


Lightning and sprite observation (LSO)
Lightning and sprite observation (LSO)

Lightning and Sprite Observation (LSO)
Sprites are a meteorological phenomenon discovered in 1989, which have the appearance of a luminous glow above lightning storms between 50and 90 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. Sprites have a duration of only a few milliseconds and are caused by powerful lightning strikes, which affect the electrical field in the ionosphere (part of the upper atmosphere). The aim of this experiment is to observe sprites during storms, determine the energy emitted by them (and of so-called elves, which are similar to sprites), and compare this to nightly emissions of lightning. Scientists also plan to compile statistical data to determine the frequency of sprites and their origin. Principal Investigator: E. Blanc (France).