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FUTEK Force Sensors Support Critical Experiment on the International Space Station (ISS)
Release Date: 4/10/2007

In 2008 a NASA/MIT microgravity (µg) research study will be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS). FUTEK is currently supporting this SHERE experiment (Sheer History Extension Rheology Experiment) designed to measure the viscosity properties of certain complex polymer fluids. A weightless environment is critical to this experiment to prevent gravity from causing the fluids to sag during the test, giving erroneous results. 

Taking these special requirements into consideration, FUTEK’s engineering team developed a force transducer which will measure the sheer viscosity of the fluid during the test.  The experiment was proposed and developed by Professor Gareth McKinley at MIT.  It is housed within a sealed “glove box” size apparatus.  Below is a picture of the experiment with the covers open and a graphic indicating the location of the experiments’ key elements.

The whole experiment will be conducted in two phases.  First, the microgravity experiment will be a carried to the ISS by Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-120 in August 2007. The experiment will be installed and its operation verified before the polymer fluids are brought to the ISS.  Second, the Space Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to bring the experimental fluids to the ISS on STS-121 in late 2007 so that mission scientists can conduct the experiment.

This is just one example of FUTEK’s innovative ability to meet special requirements. Stay tuned to get more details on this experiment as the project gets underway.

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