The first scientific paper based on data from the AMS, seen here
before its May 2011 launch to the ISS, is expected within weeks,
perhaps providing insights into the nature of dark matter.
(credit: NASA/KSC)

Turning ISS into a full-fledged space laboratory

by Jeff Foust
Monday, February 25, 2013

The International Space Station (ISS) has long been sold on its promise as a unique laboratory. With its research facilities staffed by astronauts and cosmonauts, its location in Earth orbit, and in particular the microgravity environment it offers, the ISS offers the potential for groundbreaking work in a variety of disciplines, from biomedical research to material science to physics and astronomy.

To date, though, the station hasn’t fully realized that potential for research. For many years, the explanation was that the station was still being assembled—it is, after all, hard to do work in a lab when you’re still building it. However, the ISS is now complete, and the clock is ticking on the ability of scientists to make use of it before the end of the decade, when NASA and its partners will have to make a decision on whether to extend the station’s life beyond 2020. Fortunately for station advocates, the first breakthrough results from research on the station may be just around the corner.

Read more: The Space Review: Turning ISS into a full-fledged space laboratory.

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