Scientists and engineers alike may soon agree with Frank Sinatra, who sang about Chicago as "My Kind of Town" when the city hosts the third annual International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference from June 17 to 19. While attending, guests will learn about the latest research and technology accomplishments, share ideas for microgravity experiments and find ways to put those concepts aboard the platform of the space station.
This year's theme is discoveries, applications and opportunities. To be exact, discoveries in microgravity, Earth and space science, human research, as well as engineering and education. Attendees will also discuss applications benefitting Earth, enabling technology and forwarding exploration, as well as opportunities for use of this innovative, one-of-a-kind laboratory.
The American Astronautical Society organized the event in cooperation with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and NASA. The yearly gathering is the only U.S. conference to detail the scope of research and technology development on the space station. Past, present and potential participants of the orbiting laboratory will come together during the conference to share, learn and grow microgravity research. Companies interested in learning more about space station research and how it might benefit their industry are encouraged to attend.
"Of particular interest this year for current and potential new space station researchers is a breakdown from the experts on what really makes the station so valuable," said Allyson Thorn, assistant International Space Station Program scientist. "They will show the benefits of performing an experiment in microgravity versus on the ground and comparisons of experiments in both environments. From the cellular level to whole organism level for life sciences experiments and for combustion, fluid physics and materials changes for physical sciences experiments."
The conference's plenary sessions will highlight the latest results from space station studies in the various disciplines of physical, life, Earth and space sciences, as well as spacecraft technology development. Veterans of microgravity research will share findings, while newcomers to the field of studies in space can find pathways to launch their own theories for testing in orbit.
The first keynote speaker of the event is Mike Suffredini, ISS Program manager. Next, guests will hear from Greg Johnson, president and executive director of CASIS. The final keynote presenter is Nobel Laureate Professor Samuel Ting from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ting's talk will cover Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) results and the outlook of data through 2024. The focus of the AMS is to seek answers to the origins and nature of the universe. John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate and a former astronaut, will also be a featured speaker.
"Another new feature of the conference that will encourage the company mind in all of us is the Entrepreneurship on the ISS - Case Studies workshop," said Thorn. "We will hear from current successful small business startups on working with the space station - their ideas, experiences, and results."
Plenary themes during the conference look at the full scope of the space station, which serves as not only a microgravity laboratory, but a test bed for technology and a stepping stone to future exploration. The Earth benefits that derive from the studies and technology affiliated with the station, as well as the commercial expansion and opportunities also factor into this year's sessions. Topics specifically include: most compelling results from the space station in 2013; biotechnology, health and education; the space station as a pathway to Mars; top engineering development and technology maturation focusing on commercial and exploration applications; and top discoveries in microgravity.
"The goal of this conference is to bring people together to share their stories, findings and experiences from the space station and to entice, excite and encourage all to bring forward new ideas to capitalize on this unique opportunity for microgravity research," said Thorn. "This will be an exciting decade for the space station as we continue to learn and study more, and turn those ideas into opportunities, results and plans for humanity's future."
If this is the first wind you are getting of this "Windy City" happening, it's not too late to register for the conference online. Registration continues through June 6 and potential researchers can get a leg up on building their ideas by visiting NASA's space station research and technology website.
by Jessica Nimon
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA's Johnson Space Center