July 2014 - The CSLM-4 flight hardware is currently going through ground environmental testing. The CSLM-4 Sample Processing Units have completed the vibration testing in July 2014. The CSLM-4 flight hardware is scheduled to be launched on board the SpaceX-5 launch vehicle. The SpaceX-5 launch is now scheduled for December 2014.
The CSLM-4 materials science experiment is in development during May 2014 to September 2014. The CSLM-4 dendrite samples are scheduled to be provided by the Principal Investigator Peter Voorhees in September 2014 for final assembly of six Sample Processing Units in late September 2014. The CSLM-4 experiment is scheduled to be launched on SpaceX-5 in October 2014.
The Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures (CSLM) experiment is a materials science space flight experiment whose purpose is to investigate the kinetics of competitive particle growth within a liquid matrix. During coarsening, small particles shrink by losing atoms to larger particles, causing the larger particles to grow. In this experiment solid particles of tin will grow (coarsen) within a liquid lead-tin eutectic matrix. By conducting this experiment in a microgravity environment, a greater range of solid volume fractions can be studied, and the effects of convection present in terrestrial experiments will be negligible. The flight hardware consists of two separable pieces of equipment, the sample processing unit (SPU) and the electronic control unit (ECU).
CSLM-2 samples are processed inside
the Sample Processing Unit (SPU), which has a large, cylindrical sample
chamber. After a sample is completed, pressurized water is pumped into
the chamber to quench the sample, cooling it for removal. This system
can quench the sample from 185C (the temperature required to initiate
coarsening in tin-lead (Sn-Pb) samples) to 120C in only 6 seconds.
The Electronics Control Unit (ECU) provides power and the software that controls all stages of processing. Parameters and status are displayed on the ECU's LCD screen. The ECU controls the temperature inside the SPU sample chamber and monitors and records the sample's temperature. The quenching stage can be initiated automatically or controlled manually by the crew. A base plate attaches the SPU and ECU to the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) work volume floor.
CSLM-2 will be conducted inside the sealed MSG work volume. The crew must load and initiate each run. Quenching can be initiated manually. Data captured by the ECU is transferred to the MSG laptop for storage and downloading to the ground-based researchers. The samples are a mixture consisting of Sn (tin)-rich particles in a Pb-Sn liquid, a mixture that has a low sintering temperature and a high coarsening rate, making it perfect for studying Ostwald ripening.
In any mixture that contains particles of different
sizes, the large particles tend to grow while the smaller particles shrink
in a process called coarsening. Tiny oil droplets coalescing into a large
blob are one illustration, but the process occurs in solids as well.
Coarsening occurs on Earth during the processing of any metal alloy and
thus the coarsening process affects products from dental fillings to
turbine blades. Since the properties of an alloy are linked to the size
of the particles within the solid, coarsening can be used to strengthen
materials. This is the case with the majority of aluminum alloys used
commercially today. Conversely, if the coarsening process proceeds too
long the material can weaken. This occurs in jet turbine blades and is
one of the reasons why turbine blades must be replaced after a certain
number of hours of service. Thus developing accurate models of the coarsening
process is central to creating a wide range of new materials from those
used in automobiles to those used in space applications. Solid-liquid
systems are ideal systems to study this coarsening process. However,
gravity can induce particle sedimentation and thus hamper the studies
of coarsening in these mixtures on Earth. The microgravity environment
of the Space Station allows scientists to study the process of coarsening
with reduced interference from the sedimentation that occurs on Earth.
On Earth, materials that contain pores created and trapped during solidification degrade properties and cause a distinct weakening in the overall structure of the cast product. Determining what causes these problems will lead to the development of improved manufacturing processes for materials.
CSLM-1, a precursor to CSLM-2, was conducted
on STS-83 and STS-94. CSLM-2 was conducted during ISS Increment 7
CSLM-2 operated 5 SPU's on ISS during Increment 16 in December 2007. CSLM-2 operated 3 SPU's on ISS during Increment 17 in April 2008.
The CSLM-2 SPU's that were operated on the ISS
during Increment 16 and Increment 17 have been returned to earth on the
Shuttle. The CSLM-2 Principal Investigator is currently analyzing
the samples from the SPU's returned.
October 2013 – The CSLM-3 samples are at the Principal Investigator’s Northwestern University laboratory undergoing analysis.
June 2013 – The CSLM-3 dendrite samples are at Northwestern University beginning analysis by the Principal Investigator team.
CSLM-2R (2010) Status
Feb 10, 2011 – The CSLM-2R experiment successfully processed
the Low Volume Fraction samples within the Sample Processing Units
on board the International Space Station and the samples will be returned
the on Space Shuttle STS-133/Flight ULF-5.
CSLM-2 (2008) Status
February 10, 2011 – The Principal Investigator
Peter Voorhees at Northwestern University has analyzed the CSLM-2
high volume fraction samples from the six successful SPU’s and
is writing a CSLM-2 Report to document the science results.
Contacts at NASA Glenn Research Center