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NSF Funds Annual Solicitation Seeking Physical Science Research Leveraging the ISS National Lab

For the ninth consecutive year, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding a solicitation that seeks proposals leveraging the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory for research in the physical science area of transport phenomena.

Image Credit: NSF

NSF will provide up to $3.6 million for multiple projects to utilize the space station for fundamental research focused on fluid dynamics, particulate and multiphase processes, thermal transport processes, combustion and fire systems, and nanoscale interactions. Microgravity affects the underlying physics in many transport processes, and some of the forces that impact fluid behavior are significantly reduced. This makes the sustained microgravity environment on the orbiting laboratory beneficial for several areas of study. Responsive proposals will describe how the investigation will utilize the unique conditions available on the space station to advance fundamental and translational research to benefit humanity.

On SpaceX’s upcoming 29th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the space station, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) will launch an NSF-funded investigation from a previous solicitation. The UCSB team aims to use microgravity conditions to better understand how the mucus lining of the human airway affects the delivery of medication to the lungs. The team will study the dynamics of fluid plugs as they move through gel-coated tubes, which mimic the mucosal lining in the human lung. This research could lead to improved drug delivery for respiratory distress syndrome, and ultimately, a higher treatment success rate.

Fundamental science is a strategic focus area for the ISS National Lab, and knowledge gained from such research leads to advances that bring value to our nation and further inform the scientific community. Through this partnership, the ISS National Lab will facilitate hardware implementation and in-orbit access to the ISS, and NSF will fund the selected projects to further fundamental science in the areas of transport phenomena and fluid dynamics.

Prior to submitting a full proposal to NSF for this solicitation, all interested investigators must submit an ISS National Lab Feasibility Review Form. The information provided in this form is used to evaluate the operational feasibility of the proposed research to be conducted onboard the space station.

The deadline to submit a Feasibility Review Form is January 10, 2024. Only investigators whose concept passes this Feasibility Review will be invited to submit a full proposal. The full proposal submission deadline is on March 4, 2024.

For more information on this solicitation (NSF 24-501), including how to submit a Feasibility Review Form, visit the ISS National Lab solicitation webpage. To view the full solicitation, please visit the NSF solicitation page.


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