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NASA Takes First 3-D Microscopic Image on the Space Station
by Debbie Lockhart for LRC News
Cleveland OH (SPX) Apr 19, 2018

A composite 3-D model of NASA's Advanced Colloids Experiment. See video here

Standard flat imagery of space science is a thing of the past for researchers at NASA's Glenn Research Center and Procter and Gamble Co. (P and G). Using the International Space Station's newly upgraded microscope, the Light Microscopy Module (LMM), scientists can now see microscopic particles in 3-dimensional images.

On April 12, researchers first viewed the particles, called colloids, in 3-D, during the ongoing Advanced Colloids Experiments (ACE). Colloids are suspensions of microscopic particles in a liquid, and they are found in products ranging from milk to fabric softener.

Consumer products often use colloidal gels to distribute specialized ingredients, for instance droplets that soften fabrics, but the gels must serve two opposite purposes: they have to disperse the active ingredient so it can work, yet maintain an even distribution so the product does not spoil.

Researchers are using the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T-6) investigation, which has been in development for eight years, to study the behavior of colloids in gels and creams. The team plans to use the results to improve product shelf life and provide for more efficient product packaging.

ACE-T-6 has used a variety of imaging techniques with hardware developed by Glenn and ZIN Technologies, Inc. Now because of last year's confocal upgrade to the LMM, researchers are able to view micron-sized particles in consecutive 2-D layers, or slices, and combine them into 3-D models that can be viewed from any angle.

These models greatly increase the ability for scientific observations of how colloidal systems evolve.

In a microgravity environment, particles in these systems settle 100,000 times slower than on Earth, allowing observation during days or weeks instead of just minutes, revealing previously hidden thermo-dynamic interactions.

ACE will continue using this imaging technology through 2019. Researchers will study particle shapes, coatings, chemistry and manipulation with magnetic fields by observing these now visible particle interactions.

P and G has partnered with NASA in research and innovation for more than 10 years to investigate the mechanisms of consumer product shelf life. Researchers can apply knowledge gained from the Advanced Colloids Experiments to improving the stabilizers within gels and creams found within consumer products, which in turn could ultimately improve shelf-life.

As a result, the research may lead to commercial enhancements like improved battery performance and solar cells, and better consumer products such as shampoo and pharmaceuticals.

Related Links
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Why the European nations don't cooperate with Russia in the space industry and manned spacecraft is a question which puzzles space industry expert Gerhard Kowalski. He told Sputnik in an interview what consequences the withdrawal of US funding from the ISS project could have. The US plans to stop funding the International Space Station (ISS), announced recently, came as no surprise, according to space industry analyst and journalist Gerhard Kowalski. The partners earlier decided to jointly manage ... read more

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