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University sends new materials for testing on ISS

Posted on 13 Jan 2020 and read 933 times
University sends new materials for testing on ISSResearchers at the University of Manchester have developed new ‘aerodynamic’ materials that have been sent to the International Space Station (ISS) for testing.

Deployed on the exterior of the ISS, the materials will be exposed to the harsh environment of low Earth orbit to investigate their erosion properties.

After six months, they will be returned to Earth for analysis; it is hoped that they can be used in a new generation of very-low-orbit satellites. This project is part of the Discoverer programme.

Peter Roberts, Discoverer scientific co-ordinator at the University of Manchester (www.manchester.ac.uk), said: “If the materials have the properties that we believe they do, they could significantly reduce the drag acting on satellites in very low orbits, opening a new orbital regime for communications and remote sensing satellites.

"Very low Earth orbits have many benefits, improving payload performance while also allowing satellites to be smaller and to use less power..”

As part of the Discoverer project, the university is also helping to develop a small satellite, called the Satellite for Orbital Aerodynamics Research.

Due to be launched in the summer, SOAR will further investigate the aerodynamic properties of the materials, by examining the drag and lift of the spacecraft.