As you may have guessed, space tribology is the application of tribology and lubrication principles in the space environment. The field addresses the reliable performance of machines in space, including satellites, spacecraft, and even the International Space Station (ISS). These instruments and structures require lubrication and it is a challenge to create lubricants that can handle this extreme environment.
Brandon Krick, a Ph.D. student who attends and works at the Tribology Lab at the University of Florida discusses space tribology and MISSE7, or the Materials on the International Space Station Experiments, 7th Mission. He was involved in the development and implementation of the MISSE7 and will handle the analysis of the experiments upon conclusion. He is shown here with one of the tribometers.
This experiment is being conducted with NASA's help, and addresses the use of solid lubricants in low earth orbit. The experiment is a test bed for materials and coatings attached to the outside of the ISS being evaluated for the effects of the space environment. The results of this experiment will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials, thus providing information for applications in the design of future spacecraft. For more on the experiment and space tribology, you can download this week's episode, read the transcript, or listen directly from the slider bar above.
For more information on space tribology, MISSE7, Brandon, or his graduate advisor, Dr. Gregory Sawyer, you can visit our website, the University of Florida's Tribology Laboratory website, or NASA's page on MISSE7. You can also read the TLT article, "History's Ultimate Lube Job."