China presses forward on its space station work. Orbital facility is to be fully built by end of 2022.
Credit: CMSE

 

China is forging ahead on making use of its still-in-construction space station to carry out a range of experiments, both in-country investigations and though international partnerships.

Last week, retrieved space experimental samples gathered by China’s Shenzhou-12 crew were transferred to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

A handover ceremony was held in Beijing on Friday while the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization delivered the experimental materials to relevant research institutions, including the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics Chinese Academy of Sciences (SICCAS).

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Retrieved samples

Researchers will now carry out dissection, analysis and study of the retrieved samples for more scientific results.

China’s space application department has established two major research facilities, the container-free laboratory cabinet and high microgravity laboratory cabinet on the station’s core module. Those in-orbit facilities have finished basic function test and acquired in-orbit test and application data.

Shenzhou-12 crew members prepare to depart core module.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

According to China Central Television (CCTV), samples retrieved include container-free materials gleaned by the Shenzhou-12 astronauts, which will be used for further scientific research and analysis on the ground, according to the expert.

China’s Shenzhou-12 mission returned to Earth on September 17. That trio of taikonauts, Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo, completed a three-month stay on the Tianhe core module.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Container-free materials

“We are the second in the world to have facilities for researches of container-free materials, following the International Space Station. The samples retrieved include two kinds which are metal zirconium and non-metal zirconium oxide of nine sets,” Zhong Hongen, the deputy chief engineer of space application system of China’s Manned Space Flight Project, told CCTV.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Yu Jianding, a researcher with SICCAS, also told CCTV that the retrieval of the samples exemplified the sound and comprehensive functions of our space facilities.

“In the future, we will carry out in-depth research on more valuable materials, like some glassy alloy and vitreous oxide with high refraction, and apply them in the photology field,” Yu said. Photology is a branch of physics that deals with the properties and phenomena of light.

Multi-nation opportunities

Looking out into the future, the first round of China space station opportunity opened in 2018.

China space station awardees have been picked under the United Nations/China Cooperation on the Utilization of the China Space Station program – jointly implemented by UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and the China Manned Space Agency. It provided scientists from around the world with an opportunity to conduct their own experiments onboard China’s space station.

As a final outcome from the application and selection process, nine experiment projects were selected for entering the preparation and implementation process.

Courtesy: UNOOSA/Perihelion

Projects selected

Those nine projects involve 23 institutions from 17 Member States of the United Nations in Asian-pacific, European, African, North American and South American regions, including governmental organizations, private sectors, and international associations.

The projects selected are:

  • “POLAR-2: Gamma-Ray Burst Polarimetry on the China Space Station” was applied and will be implemented by four institutions from four countries, which are: The University of Geneva from Switzerland, the National Center for Nuclear Research of Poland, the Max Plank Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics of Germany, and the Institute of High Energy Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  • “Spectroscopic Investigations of Nebular Gas (SING)” was applied and will be implemented by two institutions from two countries, which are: The Indian Institute of Astrophysics, and the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
  • “Behavior of Partially Miscible Fluid in Microgravity” was applied and will be implemented by two organizations from two countries, namely the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium.
  • “Flame Instabilities Affected by Vortices and Acoustic Waves (FIAVAW)” was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by two institutions from two countries, which are: Tsinghua University from China and the University of Tokyo from Japan.
  • “Tumors in Space” was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by four institutions from four countries, namely the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, International Space University, Vrije University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and the Belgium Nuclear Research Center.
  • “Effect of Microgravity on the Growth and Biofilm Production of Disease-Causing Bacteria” was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by the Mars Society – Peru Chapter, and the Mars Society – Spain Chapter.
  • “Mid-infrared platform for Earth observations” was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by two organizations from one country, which are: the National Institute of Astrophysics Optics and Electronics (INAOE), and Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) from Mexico.
  • “Development of Multi-Junction GaAs Solar Cells for Space Applications” was jointly applied and will be jointly implemented by two institutions from one country, which are: the National Center for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) from Saudi Arabia.
  • “BARIDI SANA – High-Performance Micro 2-Phase Cooling System for Space Applications” was applied and will be implemented by three institutions from two countries, which are: the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, In Quattro s.r.l. in Italy, and the Machakos University in Kenya.

For a video on the Shenzhou-12 handover of samples, go to:

https://youtu.be/HjE_hFmqNds

To view a video on the tumors in space experiment, go to:

https://vimeo.com/389231913

Leave a Reply