The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA

Committee on Microgravity Research

Space Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.



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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA Committee on Microgravity Research Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Contract Numbers 96013 and 01001. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I.Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M.Alberts and Dr. Wm. A.Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA COMMITTEE ON MICROGRAVITY RESEARCH PETER W.VOORHEES, Northwestern University, Chair J.IWAN ALEXANDER, Case Western Reserve University HOWARD R.BAUM, National Institute of Standards and Technology JOHN L.BRASH, McMaster University MOSES H.W.CHAN, Pennsylvania State University RICHARD H.HOPKINS, Hopkins, Inc. MICHAEL JAFFE, Medical Device Concept Laboratory/Rutgers University BERNARD KEAR, Rutgers University JAN MILLER, University of Utah PETER STAUDHAMMER, TRW, Inc. VIOLA VOGEL, University of Washington, Seattle SANDRA J.GRAHAM, Study Director LISA TAYLOR, Senior Project Assistant

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA SPACE STUDIES BOARD JOHN H.McELROY, University of Texas at Arlington (retired), Chair ROGER P.ANGEL, University of Arizona JAMES P.BAGIAN, Veterans Health Administration’s National Center for Patient Safety JAMES L.BURCH, Southwest Research Institute RADFORD BYERLY, JR., University of Colorado ROBERT E.CLELAND, University of Washington HOWARD M.EINSPAHR, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute STEVEN H.FLAJSER, Loral Space and Communications Ltd. MICHAEL FREILICH, Oregon State University DON P.GIDDENS, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University RALPH H.JACOBSON, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory CONWAY LEOVY, University of Washington JONATHAN I.LUNINE, University of Arizona BRUCE D.MARCUS, TRW (retired) RICHARD A.McCRAY, University of Colorado HARRY Y.McSWEEN, JR., University of Tennessee GARY J.OLSEN, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign GEORGE A.PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired) ROBERT ROSNER, University of Chicago ROBERT J.SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research EUGENE B.SKOLNIKOFF, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITCHELL SOGIN, Marine Biological Laboratory C.MEGAN URRY, Yale University PETER W.VOORHEES, Northwestern University JOHN A.WOOD, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics JOSEPH K.ALEXANDER, Director

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA Preface In October of 2000 NASA’s Microgravity Research Division was reorganized as part of the reorganization of the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications. As a result, the microgravity division—now known as the Physical Sciences Division—took on the responsibility for a broader range of research for NASA. As part of these responsibilities the division was expected to extend its programs in biotechnology and the physical and engineering sciences beyond the current focus on experiments for the International Space Station and to establish interdisciplinary research efforts in the areas of nanoscience, biomolecular physics and chemistry, and exploration research. The division was also tasked to contribute to the understanding of gravity-related physical phenomena in biological systems, working in concert with the Fundamental Space Biology Division and the Biomedical and Human Support Research Division. In general, the new division was expected to carry out (a) fundamental microgravity research, (b) microgravity research to support the development of exploration technologies, and (c) research across a range of other physical science disciplines to address specific NASA needs. Research in this third category might or might not be gravity related but was intended to draw on the unique knowledge base already available in the microgravity program. Although the former microgravity division’s role had been expanded beyond the scientific examination of gravity-related phenomena, its new role within NASA was not yet fully defined, and the additional resources available for new investigations were expected to be limited. There was a need, therefore, for a new charter to provide focus for the division’s efforts, as well as a careful targeting of topics within the newly added research areas. NASA, therefore, requested that the Committee on Microgravity Research carry out a two-phase study containing the following elements: Phase I. As part of a preliminary study the committee was asked to develop an overall unifying theme, or “mission statement,” for NASA’s program in microgravity and physical sciences. This theme would encompass the expanded range of research that the program will undertake and would provide NASA with broad scientific guidelines for determining whether specific research questions fall within the new program’s purview. As part of this effort the committee would consider the appropriate role of the microgravity and physical sciences program with respect to other programs within NASA, such as the Human Exploration and Development of Space enterprise. The committee would also identify, in general terms, the research opportunities in the newly added discipline areas that could appropriately be pursued by the program. Phase II. During the second phase of the study the committee would identify more specific topics within the new discipline areas on which the division could most profitably focus. In doing this the committee would consider what special capabilities and knowledge exist in the current program that could be applied to the new disciplines being added to the program. The committee would also assess the current status of the division’s research program and attempt to prioritize future research directions, including both current and new disciplines. This report presents the results of the Phase I study.

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of the report: John D.Buckmaster, University of Illinois, Carol A.Handwerker, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Carl C.Koch, North Carolina State University, Julius Rebek, Jr., The Scripps Research Institute, John D.Reppy, Cornell University, Jerome S.Schultz, University of Pittsburgh, and Harry Swinney, University of Texas, Austin. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Rainer Weiss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND   4     Current Program Areas,   4     Fluid Research Program,   4     Materials Research Program,   5     Combustion Research Program,   5     Fundamental Physics Research Program,   5     Biotechnology Research Program,   6     New Research Areas,   6     References,   6 2   ROLE OF THE NASA PHYSICAL SCIENCES DIVISION   7 3   NEW OPPORTUNITIES AT THE NANOSCALE AND AT THE INTERFACE BETWEEN BIOLOGY AND THE PHYSICAL AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES   9     Nanoscale Materials and Processes,   10     Biomolecular Physics and Chemistry,   10     Cellular Biophysics and Chemistry,   11     Integrated Systems for HEDS,   12     References,   13     APPENDIXES         A Letter of Request from NASA,   17     B Committee Biographies,   19

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