Astronauts are studying materials science in space •

Astronauts are studying materials science in space


Today’s Video of the Day from the European Space Agency features ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronaut Kayla Barron as they discuss some of their work on the International Space Station. The astronauts are exploring the use of antimicrobial spoons made of stainless steel and copper, along with other materials science topics.

“Principal investigators Ralf Möller of the Institute of Space Medicine, German Aerospace Center, Cologne and Frank Mücklich from the Institute for Functional Materials, Saarland University have been jointly investigating the antimicrobial effect of laser-structured surfaces for use during space travel since 2017,” reports ESA.

“Though the antimicrobial effect of some metals has been known for a while, modern laser surface structuring is thought to result in up to 80% less bacterial adhesion and could significantly reduce the transmission of harmful germs both in space and here on Earth.”

The astronauts discuss potential applications of a scanning electron microscope that may ultimately be used to investigate biological samples aboard the Station. As a materials scientist, Maurer says that it is exciting to have an electron microscope for the first time on the ISS, calling it a “giant leap” to have a microscope that will allow the experts to look at the tiny details of samples in space. 

Maurer and Barron flew to the ISS together in November 2021 as mission specialists for Crew-3. They are expected to return to Earth this month after approximately six months of science and operations in orbit.

Image/ Video Credit: ESA

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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