NASA is set to launch a sensor that will measure space debris around the International Space Station (ISS), which could help reduce the risk to human life. The one square meter Space Debris Sensor (SDS) will travel on a SpaceX cargo mission on December 4 and will be mounted on the exterior of the station. The sensor uses dual-layer thin films, an acoustic sensor system, a resistive grid sensor system and a sensored backstop to provide near-real-time impact detection and recording, the US space agency said. Research from this investigation could help lower the risk to human life and critical hardware by orbital debris. US-based aerospace company SpaceX will launch its Dragon spacecraft into orbit for its 13th commercial resupply mission. The spacecraft will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.
Another investigation will attempt to pull fibre optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fibre optic glass.
When ZBLAN is solidified on Earth, its atomic structure tends to form into crystals. Research indicates that ZBLAN fibre pulled in microgravity may not crystalise as much, giving it better optical qualities than the silica used in most fibre optic wire. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fibre optic products both in space and on Earth.
According to NASA, one more research to be sent to the ISS is the Rodent Research-6 (RR-6) investigation. It will examine a drug compound and drug delivery system designed to combat muscular breakdown in space or other times of disuse. The implanted drug delivery chip will administer a compound meant to maintain muscle in a variety of disuse conditions, including microgravity. The results from the RR-6 investigations will help researchers to understand how to maintain a healthy body structure in the absence of gravity. It will also increase our understanding of muscle-related diseases, disorders and injuries.