The International Commercial Experiments service – ICE Cubes for short – facility provides commercial access to microgravity offering faster, easier and more affordable access to research in space.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst installed the first experiment cubes in the facility that is housed in Europe’s research laboratory Columbus, part of the International Space Station.
The International Space University is the first customer to run experiments in ICE Cubes. The plug-and-play cubes need only to be slotted into the facility and the data collection can begin.
The first cube houses an experiment that is continuing research on methane-producing microorganisms to see how they survive in space conditions. In the longer term, the knowledge gained could lead to these microorganisms for bio-mining of asteroids to produce methane to fuel future space missions.
The second International Space University experiment is an interactive art installation that brings space to Earth and back again, highlighting the versatility of the ICE Cubes facility. The cube contains a kaleidoscope linked to a ground installation that is activated by the pulse of participants. The images are then beamed down to the installation on Earth, thanks to ICE Cubes’ unique 24-hour accessibility.
Researchers can access the data from their payloads at any time via a dedicated mission control centre at Space Applications Services’ premises in Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, Belgium. Clients can connect to their experiment from their own location over internet to read the data and even send commands directly.
For more information on ICE Cubes, visit the website to see how you can fly your experiment.