Technology Development Activities for Housing Research Animals on Space Station Freedom 911596
NASA is developing a Biological Flight Research Laboratory for conducting experiments with live specimens aboard Space Station Freedom. Long-term housing for animals in the Space Station Freedom operational environment presents many technological challenges beyond those encountered in short-duration Space Shuttle missions. In order to successfully meet these challenges during the upcoming hardware design phase, the animal habitat development group in the NASA Ames Research Center Biological Flight Research Project Office is developing improved microgravity animal waste collection methods, along with habitat designs that could reduce crew involvement in, and station resources required for, cleaning operations. Because of its inherent simplicity and compatibility with animals, airflow has been selected as the primary waste collection mechanism. Air curtains (localized areas of high-speed directed airflow) are being evaluated as a means of obtaining the high air velocities needed to keep the cage interior and animals relatively clean while keeping the total airflow rates (thus, power, weight, volume, noise, vibration, and heat production) low. Other related development activities include the study of basic contamination control mechanisms in reduced gravity, design of an animal habitat test bed, and material selection and evaluation.