General Research Projects

Our current research projects, starting from Earth up to the distant Universe:

Physiology and pharmacology in space

Virginia Wötring’s research interests include examining the changes in physiology and pharmacology that occur in the confined, closed, microgravity, elevated radiation environment of a space mission. A recent research project was conducted onboard the International Space Station orbiting 350 km above the Earth: collection of medication use data directly from crewmembers during space flight missions. Other projects include studying women’s health treatments during spaceflight missions, and examination of genes and proteins altered when organisms live in a spaceflight environment.

Selected publications:

  • Blue RS, Chancellor JC, Antonsen EL, Bayuse TM, Daniels VR, Wötring VE. Limitations in predicting radiation-induced pharmaceutical instability during long-duration spaceflight. NPJ Microgravity. 2019;5:15.
  • Wötring V, Smith L. Dose Tracker: an iOS app for collection of medication use data from volunteer crewmembers on the International Space Station. Frontiers Physiology. 2018.

Management: the New Space

After commercialization in the space world, entrepreneurship is strongly in demand in ISU. Indeed, many participants have expressed a desire to become actors in the New Space era. In order to understand better the mechanisms in this environment, with the help of MSS students, research was directed towards financing and organization of New Space startups. Due to confusion on the concept, first emphasis was placed on proposing an overview and better definition of New Space (1),(2).

Further research looked into the different incubator types and mechanisms, in order to prepare ISU to become active as an ISU incubator. The results of these studies are under publication. As a next step the modalities and conditions of an in-house incubator are being evaluated.

(1) Peeters, W., Is New Space Lifting Off? Prospective Stratégique, 45 (2016), pp.60-65.
(2) Peeters, W. Towards a definition of New Space? The entrepreneurial perspective. New Space , Vol 6(3) (2018), pp. 187-190. 

Engineering: building with the Moon

Danijela Stupar’s current research is concerning “the shaping” of the lunar regolith in sense to use it as an in-situ material in combination with on-site additive manufacturing (AM) technologies for reason to build future lunar habitats.
Regolith looks like as a dust, with irregular shape of grains ranged between 40 nm to 800 nm, and with chemical composition dominated by silica and aluminum but also containing iron, titanium, calcium and magnesium. Respecting those chemical and physical characteristics, regolith replicas JSC-1A and JSC-2A, made by NASA, were used for laboratory tests in this research in combination with laser as a main energy source to melt material. Innovation in this research was introduction of an organic adjuvant for the main reason to avoid dust from original composition of material. Laboratory test are ongoing, and results will be communicated soon.

Engineering: building on the Moon

Precise drilling and excavation in future Lunar mining sites likewise building blocks will be supported by robotized instrumentation. To ensure accurate positioning of facilities or structures, customized surveying instruments will be used, in order to perform measurements needed for calculating the locations of particular items. Precise positioning in unexplored areas is difficult, even on the Earth, with all available support. This issue becomes even more complex on the Moon’s surface, considering environmental conditions and absence of Earth logistics. This project presents a design of an original positioning system, which will be used as a core of all future exploration on the Moon. The optimal positioning model for the Moon relies on the applied measurement technology. To find the best model, it requests to test the most appropriate candidate technologies, investigating the performances of their mathematical models, and their physical characteristics. Two first ranking methodologies will be tested on the Earth in vivo, applying the developed mathematical models, measuring set-ups and related equipment. All future Lunar missions will benefit from this project’s results, allowing very precise:  landing on the Lunar surface, positioning of all natural or artificial objects, calculation of areas and volumes (for excavation, for example), and all construction works.

Astronomy: Characterisation of the Solar neighbourhood

Although the “extended” solar neighbourhood (the local volume up to 500 pc or so from the Sun) represents a tiny portion of the Galactic disk, it offers us an opportunity to study in great details the structure of the Milky Way. At those distances, we can now obtain exquisite tangential velocities and even distances thanks to the ESA Gaia mission, spectroscopy and radial velocity for millions of stars, abundances for hundreds of thousand stars. This wealth of high-quality data let us analyse the kinematic structure of our stellar backyard, and answer important questions related to the formation and evolution of the Galactic disk where the Sun resides.

It has been observed for more than a century that groups of stars share the same space velocity, and this allows us to identify the population originating from a single open cluster or from the same stellar nursery, whose members share the age and composition.
The results that my collaborators and I obtain include the discovery of new nearby open clusters, which had escaped detection so far because of their low density; the first tidal tails around an open cluster: the nearby Hyades cluster (1; see diagram, which show the absolute luminosity of Hyades stars as a function of their colors, 3); and the identification of several young moving groups located in nearby associations (2).

Selected publications:

  • Röser, S.; Schilbach. E.; Goldman, B.: Hyades tidal tails revealed by Gaia DR2, 2019, Astronomy & Astrophysics 621, 2 (1)
  • Goldman, B.; Röser, S.; Schilbach, E.; et al.: A Large Moving Group within the Lower Centaurus Crux Association, 2018 Astrophysical Journal 868, 32 (2)
  • Tang, S.-Y.;…; Goldman, B.: Characterization of Stellar and Substellar Members in the Coma Berenices Star Cluster, 2018, Astrophysical Journal 862, 106
  • Goldman, B.; Röser, S.; Schilbach, E.; et al.: Die verlorenen Sterne der Hyaden, Sterne und Weltraum Juni 2019 (3)
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