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FACET crystal growth experiment completed onboard Kibo

Last Updated: July 13, 2009

* Dates and times are given in Japan Standard Time (JST)

FACET (Investigation on Mechanism of Faceted Cellular Array Growth)* which has been conducted onboard Kibo since April 9, 2009 was completed on June 12, 2009.

*Principal Investigator (PI): Dr. Yuko Inatomi (Associate Professor, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, JAXA)

FACET aims to clarify the mechanism of a facet-like crystallization (a crystal with flat surfaces) by precisely observing the phenomena at the solid-liquid interfaces.

In the FACET experiment, the solution of salol (phenyl salicylate) and t-butanol was used as a model material instead of semiconductor and oxide.
The team monitored the facet crystal growth processes using a microscope and an interferometer while the test specimens are solidified and crystallized, especially focusing on changes in temperature and concentration of the solution and crystal. They obtained all the data planned to collect during the experiment.

For the next few months, the team will perform data analysis for establishing a model for facet crystallization. In three months, a summary report of the FACET experiment will be available. Study results and experiment details are scheduled to be publicized in a scientific paper a year later.

Comment from Dr. Inatomi (Principal Investigator: PI)

FACET experiment, which was initiated on April 9, 2009, was successfully completed. We performed the experiment at a constant pace of one session per day as it was planned, so we ran a total of 40 sessions onboard Kibo.

It was really amazing that we could observe the experiment real time. We had a feeling that we were operating the experiment from the next room; as soon as we sent commands from the ground, monitor of the experiment was immediately switched on and a session began just on time.

On the other hand, there were times we came to realize that our experiment was truly performed in space; for example we faced some difficulties in command uplink and data downlink while the ISS flew in the non Ku-band communication coverage zone.

During the experiment, we collected various data including crystal formation patterns and interference patterns changing in microgravity. We thank all the people who supported the experiment: the ISS crew members, experiment operations team, and those involved in the design and development of this experiment.

Having a vast amount of data at hand, we are very busy but happy about processing and analyzing those image data collected during the experiment. We feel honored to have this privilege to make use of those valuable data. We are very motivated to achieve our goal based on this onboard experiment.

I would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the people involved in the experiment.

*All times are Japan Standard Time (JST)

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