The EPO FOAM project aims at the study of aqueous and non-aqueous foams in the microgravity environment on-board the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment aims to study the so called “wet” foams, which cannot be stabilized on earth because of drainage (process absent in microgravity conditions).

The Foam Stability Experiment (FOAM-S) will be operated by Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, as crew member of Increment 29&30 on the International Space Station in 2009, as part of the PromISSe. E-USOC is the responsible centre of operations’ preparation, validation, and execution for FOAM-S experiment. Broadly, E-USOC coordinates this Payload in Real-time operations.

Significant Dates

Mission 45 – Expedition 29, Launch: October 30, 2011 (upload)

Experiment Session: January 11, 2012

Live Link Educational Event: April 24, 2012

André with EPO FOAM-Stability experiment

Source: ESA

The scientific experiment philosophy has not changed with respect to the first execution in 2009. The experiment is composed by a total of 3 cell arrays which allow explore a total of 36 fluid mixtures samples. Divided in 12 cylinders, each cell array is processed by mixing the compounds using a marble to agitate the fluid. A HD video camera record the foaming using a white background (laptop screen). Foam, fluid and air level can be record by the ruler incorporated in the cell array.

As part of the PromISSe Educational Mission, the educational activities aim at introducing the concept of foams to European students age 10-14. School children are able to operate their own identical experiment on ground and witness how foams differ under the influence of gravity compared to the ISS’s weightless environment. They are guided by script generated by ESA Educational office which helps student to better understand foaming process and its differences between the behaviour of foams under freefall conditions and in presence of gravity.

The second part of the EPO Foam Stability experiment, along with another educational experiment called Convection, consist on a livelink connection between the station and different venues in several European countries, from which the school children will be able to ask questions to André Kuipers.