The Research under Space Conditions programme concerns itself primarily with investigations in the fields of materials science, plasma physics, medicine and the life sciences. The comparison of experimental results derived in space under microgravity conditions with those obtained on Earth enables an improved understanding of the fundamental mechanisms and processes in these areas.
The use of drop towers, parabolic flights, sounding rockets, the ISS, and DLR’s own :envihab laboratory enables DLR to conduct research under both real and simulated microgravity conditions.
In the life sciences, the acute and chronic effects of extreme environmental conditions such as atmospheric composition, nutrition, gravity, noise, light and radiation on human health and performance are investigated and comprehensively documented under long-term and consistent observation. Cellular processes, single organs and entire organisms are all considered.
Materials science research focuses on the investigation of material structures and properties using theoretical research, experiments and simulations. The availability of sounding rockets and access to the ISS make it possible to conduct these experiments under microgravity conditions.
The combination of DLR’s laboratories on Earth and the Material Science Laboratory onboard the ISS, particularly its Electromagnetic Levitator (EML), allows for a wide range of experimentation in the laboratory, in space, and aboard sounding rockets.
An additional focus is the study of fundamental mechanisms underlying the fluid properties and solidification processes of materials under microgravity conditions. DLR has at its disposal the PK-4 plasma crystal laboratory on the ISS for this purpose, which can be used to conduct gravitational experiments and gain insight into the basic physical properties of complex plasmas.