Our Operations Engineers controlling a new instrument on the ISS and investigating the boiling process of fluids
The past month was exciting for the ISS Operations Engineers of Space Applications Services, working in the Control Room of the Belgian User Support & Operations Centre (B.USOC)!
After a long preparation, getting to know a new instrument, understanding the scientific requirements of the experiment, translating these requirements to a functional operations concept in order to perform the experiment onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and making sure the scientists get the data they are after, coordinating between the engineering, scientific and flight control teams, creating procedures for the crew activities to install the instrument as well as ground procedures for the control of the instrument via telecommand, the hard work finally paid off as the real-time operations started on 5th September 2019 and all the preparation effort finally got put into use!
After a successful launch on July 25, 2019, the Multiscale Boiling payload (or RUBI experiment) was successfully installed inside the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) of the European Columbus module of the ISS, by the ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano on 9th August 2019. To do this, Luca followed carefully prepared procedures by our ISS operations engineers taking him through the installation activity step by step.
After a small hick-up with the power cable, an additional power cable swap was performed by Luca on September 05 after which the FSL was activated followed by the first switch on of the RUBI Experiment. Since 5th September 2019, 20:50 GMT our operations engineers are in full action to do the first check out of the instrument and make sure all functions work correctly in order to be able to achieve the hoped for science.
RUBI is a fluid science experiment that investigates the process of heat transfer occurring when fluids are boiling. On the International Space Station, the quasi absence of gravity allows to slow down several physical processes taking place in the boiling mechanism of water and thus enables a much more detailed observation of these processes in comparison to the same observation on Earth. For the case of RUBI specifically, the findings of the research could in the long run, contribute towards the production of more efficient and environmentally friendly household appliances (stoves, radiators) and heat exchangers for industrial processes.