No force, including gravity, can stop the NASA research team from pursuing scientific breakthroughs that benefit Earth and life in space. 4,444 scientists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, completed two parabolic flights on April 28 and 29 to test modifications to the payload called ring shear.

Marshall’s airborne ring shear team tested its payload in zero gravity on their GForce One aircraft.
Marshall’s airborne ring shear team tested their payload in zero gravity on a GForce One aircraft. least partially vaccinated and tested for COVID19 before entering the flight facility each morning.
Points: ZEROG / Steve Boxall

“The demonstration shows that the modified hardware can display and fix every protein solution used in experiments using ring drop hardware on the International Space Station,” he said. Louise Strutzenberg, co-investigator in the parabolic recirculation experiment of the circular droplet. “The lessons learned will prepare us to take the next step before resuming space station testing.

The team took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a Boeing 727 aircraft modified by Zero Gravity, which passed a series of A maneuver called a parabola realizes a variable gravitational period. The plane, called GForce One, completes 30 metaphors every day, allowing the team to conduct weightlessness experiments at 22-second intervals.

was developed by the Marshall and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. This experiment studies the formation of potentially destructive amyloid fibrils or protein clumps, such as those associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Pa Those found in the brain tissue of patients struggling with Kingson’s disease. s.

These diseases damage neurons, the power source of the human nervous system. These neurons chemically control the information processing required for the functioning of the body and mind. The accumulation of these amyloid fibrils refuses to dissolve like most proteins. On the contrary, they will accumulate over time, destroying healthy tissue and organ function, which can be debilitating and, in some cases, even fatal.

In experiments conducted on Earth, researchers determined that amyloid fibrils can be produced by shear flow or the difference in flow velocity between adjacent liquid layers. In ground experiments, this formation is affected by the shape of the experimental container and thermal convection: due to gravity, hotter, less dense materials rise into liquid, while colder, denser materials tend to sink.
However, conducting experiments under microgravity will eliminate thermal convection and cause the liquid to form spherical droplets, eliminating the need for a container. Under these weightless conditions, researchers can “nail” a drop of liquid between the two rings and grow amyloid fibrils for research. The
Ring Drop payload was originally launched to the International Space Station in 2019, but the hardware needs to be modified to achieve the desired effect. Since then, Marshall’s team has been working to improve the efficiency of the experiment by making necessary adjustments before attempting more orbital deployments.
The team started two parabolic flights in November, allowing them to test various potential payload enhancements. After the flight, the team has about five months to implement the lessons learned and prepare for the next flight opportunity in April.
In the parabolic flight event in April this year, the test equipment included a syringe containing the solution to be dispensed, a new and improved cage tube capable of dispensing stable droplets, and a motor that was activated to drive the piston into the syringe. Dispensing liquid . During the flight, the camera is able to capture the behavior of the fluid droplet during dispensing.
“Weightlessness is really an indescribable experience,” said Gabriel De Menegi, Marshall’s materials science engineer. “It is more exciting to push a project you are passionate about in a microgravity environment.”
On the first day of the flight, the team placed two of the three protein solutions. Due to power issues, the team’s high-speed camera was unable to capture the nails. However, the rear camera captured most of the operations during the flight. Once their feet are firmly on the ground, the scientists can view video images, correct power sources, and modify operations to improve efficiency.
On the second day of the flight, the team fixed an inch drop of the four flying fluids and collected all the images and data needed for ground analysis. In addition, they managed to drop one inch of two pre-cut test solutions prepared by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute team during pre-flight activities.
The Flight Opportunity Program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate made these experimental flights possible and promoted promising exploration, discovery, and rapid demonstration of space-based technologies that benefit life on Earth. The
Ring Shear Drop Hammer hardware is sponsored by NASA’s Department of Biological and Physical Sciences, which is part of the agency’s Science Mission Council. The payload is scheduled to launch this summer from NASA’s Wallops facility in Virginia to the space station for Northrop Grumman’s 16th commercial refueling service mission.

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