On Monday 22 May at 07:00, the MAPHEUS-13 rocket was successfully launched from the Esrange Space Center outside Kiruna. The launch as well as the four experiments on board could be carried out as planned.
The payload was brought back to Esrange already within a couple of hours of launch. The German Aerospace Center, DLR, conducts zero-gravity research in the MAPHEUS campaign. The aim is to find out how gravity affects fundamental physical phenomena. But some more applied science was also investigated in one of the experiments.
– We have a 3D-printer to test the ability to do powder printing in space. There is a lot of interest in this because more and more people are talking about going to the Moon or Mars and building sustainable habitats there. The way to produce things is probably going to be 3D-printing so there is a lot of questions of how you can do that in reduced gravity or on a space ship, says Thomas Voigtmann, DLR project lead at MAPHEUS-campaign and responsible for science and adds:
– If you want to print anything out of metal, powder based is the technology that we have and that works best. So, there is an interest in making that work in micro gravity.
Other experiments on board the rocket would, among other things, study how brain cells are affected in microgravity. The scientists look at how the cells’ electrical signals work. Another experiment studies whether and how the brain cells change their gene expression in microgravity.
The fourth experiment uses X-rays to study how two liquid metals interact with each other under microgravity.
– The interest is to understand the fundamental physics that are behind a lot of processes. It is micro gravity experiments where we want to look at how gravity change things or where gravity is something that perturbs the experiment and that is why you need to do it in micro gravity.
There was also some news regarding the rocket itself. The electronics and GPS system were rebuilt from the ground up for the previous flight and this flight also used the new system. Going forward, the plan is to be able to have a more efficient system for transferring data.
-We have another transmitter which we test and that means we use two transmitters that transmits the same data but with different modulation. In the future this will give us much higher data rates, says Jochen Barf, project manager at DLR Moraba.
More information about the MAPHEUS campaign