Saturday, March 16, 2024

China Space Station Retrieves over 400 Material Samples after Space Exposure

China Space Station Retrieves over 400 Material Samples after Space Exposure

A robotic arm on China's Tiangong space station successfully transferred an extravehicular experiment facility alongside with 407 material samples from outside the station's Wentian lab module to the station interior on Thursday, March 14, 2024. In order to study the stability, reliability, and longevity of these materials in space applications, the samples were moved outside of the space station on March 8, 2023, to be exposed to the space environment with high radiation levels, high vacuum levels, and wide temperature fluctuations.

According to researchers from the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CSU), the astronauts are scheduled to transfer the retrieved assembly to the Mengtian lab module on Friday. The disassembly and storage of the scientific experiment samples are then set to be conducted under the guidance of ground technicians.

"After the lab module returns to the space station, the astronauts will primarily disassemble these scientific samples and install them into our storage boxes. Later, with the manned spacecraft descending to the ground, the samples will be delivered to scientists for analysis and comparison," explained Fan Lianwen, an engineer at the center.

The first batch of materials for extravehicular exposure experiments include non-metallic materials, like memory polymer and solid lubrication, as well as metallic materials, such as magnesium alloy and porous copper.

New scientific experiment samples are planned to be transported to the Chinese Space Station in batches and several of them, like passive radiation refrigeration materials, polyimide fiber and optical fiber, have already been transported to the space station by the Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft. A new round of exposure experiments is planned for May this year.

The Shenzhou-17 crew, who arrived at the space station on Oct 26, 2023 for a six-month mission, will continue to carry out a range of space science experiments and technological tests as planned.

Shenzhou-17 is the sixth crew of three astronauts on a mission to the China Space Station. Shenzhou-17 is also the twelfth crewed and seventeenth flight overall of China's Shenzhou spaceflight program.

Shenzhou-17 Crew:

Hongbo Tang (Commander)

Shengjie Tang (Mission Specialist)

Xinlin Jiang (Mission Specialist)

Video Credit: China Manned Space Agency (CMSA)/CCTV

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Release Date: March 16, 2024

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