TECHNOLOGY: Use of EuTEF and EDR facility for technology demonstration experiments

Date: 2008-2009
Research domain: Technology

To demonstrate and validate new space technology in the real space environment is essential for space industry. The European Technology Exposure Facility (EuTEF) has been flown on an external platform of Columbus. Also the internal Columbus rack, the European Drawer Rack (EDR), has been interfacing to technology demonstration experiments. For both facilities the Erasmus USOC has been responsible for operations.
EuTEF carried experiments requiring exposure to the space environment and was installed at the beginning of 2008 on an external platform of the Columbus module attached to ISS. It was returned to Earth in September 2009 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-128. EuTEF was a programmable, fully automated, multi-user facility with modular and flexible accommodation for a variety of technology payloads. EuTEF was developed by Carlo Gavazzi Space under ESA contract.

The following experiments and instruments have been integrated into EuTEF:

  • MEDET, the Material Exposure and Degradation ExperimenT (CNES, ONERA, University of Southampton, ESA). It contained a spectrometer, pressure gauge, micro-particle detector and micro-calorimeters, A Quartz Crystal Microbalance to study contamination.
  • DOSTEL, radiation measurements (DLR, University of Kiel). The instrument allowed observation of particle injections from Solar Particle Events into the radiation belts and detection of outer belt electrons, comparison of dose rates with the inside of Columbus and characterizing the environment for more than a year.
  • TriboLAB, a multipurpose facility for tribological testing with solid or liquid lubrication in the ISS (INASMET-TECNALIA and INTA). TriboLAB includes two kinds of dynamic tests: Pin-on-disk (POD) and Ball bearings (BB). Mean friction coefficient, wear mechanisms and variation in the coatings endurance could be studied.
  • EXPOSE, photobiology and exobiology (DLR, Kayser-Threde). Three trays of samples (biological, chemical, dosimetrical) with varying parameters for UV-radiation, vacuum, CO2 have been exposed to the external space environment.
  • DEBIE-2, a micrometeoroid and orbital debris detector (ESA, Patria Finavitec). DEBIE2 has been collecting valuable data on sub-millimetre micro-meteoroids and space debris population flux.
  • FIPEX, an atomic oxygen detector (University of Dresden). Data has been obtained for the ISS orbit providing into to atmosphere modelling and new sensor technology has been demonstrated.
  • PLEGPAY, plasma electron gun payload for plasma discharge in orbit (Thales Alenia Space, ASI). For safety reasons operations were limited, but contributed to a better awareness of the plasma environment around a space platform.
  • EuTEMP, an experiment to measure EuTEF's thermal environment during unpowered transport between the Shuttle and the Columbus External Payload Facility(EFACEC). Data was downloaded after measured and recorded values were downloaded after the EuTEF commission in February 2008.
  • EVC: an Earth Viewing Camera, developed by ESA/Carlo Gavazzi Space for ESA outreach activities. Pictures of the earth were taken.

For the following technology related experiments inside Columbus Erasmus USOC supported operations:

  • The Erasmus Recording Binocular (ERB-2) is a three-dimensional video camera that recorded video onboard the ISS to create an accurate map of the ISS interior and allowed real-time stereo viewing from ground. Interfaces to EDR were reused.
  • The FOCUS experiment (FOam Casting and Utilization in Space) was an industrial materials science experiment to investigate foam formation and stability in microgravity. It was a stand-alone experiment which was performed in the beginning of February 2010.

The Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility (PCDF) was the first EDR sub-rack payload operated from the Erasmus USOC, the KUBIK Drawer (KID) transportable incubator designed for biological experiments in space and FASTER (“Facility for Absorption and Surface Tension”) demonstrated the multipurpose use of EDR. The Erasmus USOC has also been supporting educational experiments.
The technology demonstration experiments cover broad ranges of disciplines requiring testing in the external space environment. The spin-off for life on earth is in several areas which range from a better understanding of the earth’s upper atmosphere, technology and industrial activities to a better understanding of the space environment and technology needed for future exploration.

Further information


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Read more

  • Pronk, Z., L. Steinicke, J.M. Wislez, P. Dujardin, J.C. Degavre, Columbus payload operations from remote decentralized user support and operations centres, IAF conference paper, IAC-08-A2.5.4.
  • Arshad, A.M., Hoppenbrouwer, T., Annes, R., Dujardin, P., “ISS Payload Operations And Support”, Space Operations 2010 Conference, Huntsville, AL, April 2010, see also NLR-TP-2010-139.