NASA’s Physical Sciences Research Program, along with its predecessors, has conducted significant fundamental and applied research, which has led to improved space systems and produced new products offering benefits on Earth. NASA’s experiments in the various disciplines of physical science, reveal how physical systems respond to the near absence of gravity. They also reveal how other forces that on Earth are small compared to gravity, can dominate system behavior in space. The International Space Station (ISS) is an orbiting laboratory that provides an ideal facility to conduct long-duration experiments in the near absence of gravity and allows continuous and interactive research similar to Earth-based laboratories. This enables scientists to pursue innovations and discoveries not currently achievable by other means. NASA’s Physical Sciences Research Program also benefits from collaborations with several of the ISS international partners—Europe, Russia, Japan, and Canada—and foreign governments with space programs, such as France, Germany and Italy. The scale of this research enterprise promises new possibilities in the physical sciences, some of which are already being realized both in the form of innovations for space exploration and in new ways to improve the quality of life on Earth.
Fluid Physics: two-phase flow, phase change, boiling, condensation and capillary and interfacial phenomena
Materials Science: solidification in metal and alloys, crystal growth, electronic materials, glasses and ceramics
Combustion Science: spacecraft fire safety, solids, liquids and gasses, supercritical reacting fluids, and soot formation
Complex Fluids: colloidal systems, liquid crystals, polymer flows, foams and granular flows
Fundamental Physics: critical point phenomena, atom interferometry and atomic clocks in space.
NASA’s Physical Sciences Research Program is carried out at the Glenn Research Center (GRC), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).
ISS Research Project 2006-2011
Advanced Life Support – Life Support and Habitation Program 2004-2006
Office of Biological and Physical Research Program 1998-2004
Microgravity Research Program 1984-1998