The Columbus laboratory is ESA's largest single contribution to the International Space Station. Attached to the station in 2008 it is the first permanent European outpost in space.
The multi-purpose science and technology laboratory is almost 7 metres long with a diameter of 4.5 metres. It provides scientists with a unique, research environment to conduct world-class studies in life and physical sciences. Using broadband telecommunications, experiments can be controlled from several User Centres across Europe, and even directly from the scientists’ workplace via the Columbus Control Centre in Germany.
Experiments cover a broad range of fields including fundamental, fluid and combustion physics, material sciences, space biology, human physiology and technology. Results will help understand the causes, prevention and treatment of certain diseases and may lead to new manufacturing processes on Earth.
External platforms attached to Columbus host experiments requiring direct exposure to space, testing, for example how living organisms survive in such extreme conditions.