STS-89 will carry five NASA/Marshall science payloads, two for an extended stay aboard Russia's Mir space station, two for a return from Mir, and one for operations in the Spacehab module during the mission.
Joel Kearns, manager of NASA's Microgravity Research Program Office, said that the STS-89 mission will continue NASA's science program aboard Mir.Building blocks for Earth
One payload continues an exciting series of experiments into the behavior of soil under conditions that cannot be simulated on Earth, but which affect how the ground behaves during earthquakes or how powders are handled during the manufacture of drugs, cosmetics, and other products. The Mechanics of Granular Materials (MGM) experiment first flew on the STS-79 mission in 1996. On STS-89, it will make twice as many test runs under an expanded range of conditions. It compresses a column of sand contained in a latex sleeve within a water-filled plastic case.
"MGM is a very interesting science experiment that may have great ramifications for down-to-Earth engineering in the future," Kearns said. "We know, through science studies going back 50 or 60 years, that under certain conditions - such as shock waves produced during an earthquake or the collapse of a grain silo - that what looks like a gigantic mass of solidly packed-together materials - like sand or grain or agricultural products in a process conveyor belt - will suddenly behave as if they were a flowing liquid, not like a solid mass at all."
One of the "surprising findings" from the experiment on STS-79 is that even under destabilizing conditions, granular materials are as much as 80 percent more stable than once expected.
"The granular materials in a situation such as that may remain stable
for up to 10 to 20 seconds during the onset of the earthquake," Kearns
said., "But under the more prolonged shaking that takes place in an
extended tremor, they would begin to lose stability and slide wi
Contact: Dr. John Horack
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center--Space Sciences Laboratory