Experiment Operation During Apollo IVA at 0-g

Experiment: Electrophoresis or Electrophoretic Separation

Acronym: None

The electrophoresis demonstration as photographed on Apollo 16 (AS-16-104-17011). A thermometer and watch are included along with the three separation tubes. The other three dials are ammeters for the individual tubes. This is a left side view of the electrophoresis demonstration.

PI/Engineer: Richard N. Griffin/MSFC
Other Contacts: R. S. Snyder/MSFC

Apollo Flight Nos.: 16
Apollo Exp't No.: none

Discipline: materials science - organics/proteins (2680)

Weight: 3.4 kg
Dimensions: 10 x 12.7 x 18 cm

Manufacturer: General Electric (with Marshall SFC)

The A-16 experiment demonstrated the electrophoresis of large, dense non-biological particles in order to evaluate the potential for separation of biological particles such as living cells. The apparatus contained three separation columns; one column containing a mixture of mono- disperse polystyrene latex particles of 0.2 and 0.8 micron diameter and, in the other two columns, particles of each diameter were run separately to provide comparative data. The apparatus had the same dimensions and comparable weight as the A-14 unit, but several modifications were made to obtain more data. The particles were retained at the membrane closest to the cathode by a Kapton film. The disk-shaped sample containers had a smaller diameter than the tubes so that the initial insertion of the particles and subsequent electrophoresis would take place down the center of the cells and away from the walls. Photographs were taken every 20 seconds during the separation run.

Unloading from the LM: NA

Transporting by foot or MET: NA

Loading/unloading tools/exp'ts on LRV: NA

Site Selection: NA

Deploying experiment:
On one of the stowage lockers.

Check-out of experiment:
As soon as the CMP pulled the closing Mylar out of the way with the knob he got a spurt of stuff that came out and hit on the face of the glass on the box.

Operation of experiment:
Performed by the CMP, T. K. Mattingly. One hour was planned, but it was run 3 times in ~30 minutes. The CMP tapped and shook the unit to try to displace some bubbles, then had to wait for it to settle down. They did not move. The Kapton film was slowly pulled across the sample/buffer interface of each chamber simultaneously. Pictures were taken automatically every 20 sec. The A-16 unit also had a reversal switch which would reverse the polarity of the voltage. On A-16, the CMP made extensive observations and transmitted them to the ground (transcript in Tech. Memo. ref.) The rest was similar to the operation of the A-14 experiment (which see.)

Repairs to experiment:
none required. Some taps on the unit were needed to displace bubbles.

Recovery/take-down of experiment:
No comments by crew.

Stowing experiment for return:
The apparatus was jettisoned in the LM so that additional storage could be provided in the CM for lunar material.

Loading/unloading samples on LRV:
The samples were released by sliding a membrane.

Loading of exp't/samples into the LM: NA

Stowing of package once in the LM: NA

Sampling operations - soil, rocks: NA

Trenching: NA

Raking: NA

Drilling: NA

Navigating/recognizing landmarks: NA

Were there any hazards in the experiment?
i.e. hazardous materials (explosive, radioactive, toxic), sharp objects, high voltages, massive, bulky, tripping hazards, temperatures?
The electrical system produced 300 VDC for the electrodes for separation. The crew was protected from this. The entire unit consumed 32 Watts of power.

Was lighting a problem? No

Were the results visible to the crew? Yes

Would you recommend any design changes?
Many were made from the A-14 experiment, which see.

Were any special tools required?
Camera and tripod, included.

Was the orientation of the experiment (i.e. horizontal/vertical) important? Difficult? No.

Was the experiment successful? Yes

Were there related experiments on other flights?
Apollo 14 Electrophoresis Experiment, Skylab, Shuttle middeck (EOS), Spacelab(?)

Where was it stored during flight?

Were there any problems photographing the experiment? No.

What pre-launch and cruise req'ts were there?power, thermal, late access, early recovery?

What was different between training and actual EVA?
Some bubbles were present in the tubes which expanded during flight due to the lower pressure in the CM.

What problems were due to the suit rather than the experiment? NA

Any experiences inside the CM of interest from the experiment/operations viewpoint?
Performed on trans-lunar coast the day after launch. The apparatus was then jettisoned in the LM so that additional storage could be provided in the CM for lunar material.


A-16 Mission Report

NASA TM X-64724, Electrophoresis Separation in Space - Apollo 16, 1972

Apollo Program Summary Report, section 3.6 Inflight Demonstrations, JCS-09423, April, 1975.

Apollo 16 Technical Crew Debriefing, 5 May 1972, in JSC History Office.