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Microgravity science

For science the microgravity has a great value because there physical, chemical and biological processes can be studied without the influence of gravity.

Without gravity everything is different. Many of the mentioned processes are functioning in a different way than on Earth.

Materials science

Microgravity influences above all the behavior of liquids and melts, because lighter (better: less dense) material doesn't rise any more (there is no up and down).

Flames behave differently due to the same reason.

That's why scientists melt metal probes in space an mix them with others, to observe the behavior during the mixing. There they have found out that despite the missing gravity not all materials can form alloy.

No warmer material is rising, so a normal boiling pot would not work in space, because the heated water would not rise from the heater and therefore not mix with the cold water. This process is called convection and is caused by gravity, therefore it is missing in space.

Both pictures show astronauts doing scientific experiments on the Neurolab mission in 1998, in which mainly the influence of zero gravity on the human body was studied. Among other things they performed experiments concerning the hand-eye coordination, the regulation of the blood pressure and sleep monitoring.

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Likewise small bubbles can be distributed in liquids to form extra light or isolating materials. This aspect of zero-g could contain big options for industrial production in space in the future. As well solids can without problems be distributed in a liquid material which then soldifies.

In space fire burns with a round flame and hotter than on Earth because the hot air is not rising. The studies of combustion processes in space could help to e. g. optimize the combustion of fuel in car motors, and besides it is important to understand these processes for implying fire protection measures on a space station.

Much bigger and more evenly crystals can be grown in space due to the microgravity, what is important for the computer industry (purer crystals give better microchips).

For more information about microgravity science please follow the links at the end of the page, I am not so well informed on that subject.

Biology and medicine

Zero gravity has, as I described in "effects on the human body" a big influence on it (see there). The studies concentrate on those phenomena and on what is actually causing unpleasant reactions to the adaptation like space sickness and how to overcome unwanted effects like muscle and bone loss.

Many of the reactions of the body to weightlessness are similar to illnesses, and the scientists try in this way to find cures and treatments for them.

Additionally biological science with cell cultures and protein crystals and with plants and small animals is done. The goal is to examine the development of cells, growth of protein crystals and behavior of plants and animals in an environment without gravity.

More information you can find in the links at the side.