Projects to date have used the International Space Station (ISS) as an extraterrestrial laboratory while projects that are currently in development are pursuing pathways to other planetary surfaces within our solar system.
Strata-1Strata-1 investigates the properties and behavior of regolith on small, airless bodies. Regolith is the impact-shattered "soil" found on asteroids, comets, the moon, and other airless worlds, but it is different from soil here on Earth in that it contains no living material. Strata-1's goal is to give us answers about how regolith behaves and moves in microgravity, how easy or difficult it is to anchor a spacecraft in regolith, how it interacts with spacecraft and spacesuit materials, and other important properties.
It is important to NASA to know how to set anchors in regolith, how to safely move and process large volumes of regolith, and predict and prevent risk to spacecraft and astronauts visiting these small bodies. Also, understanding the whole-body context of material returned to Earth from small asteroids, such as by the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission, the JAXA Hayabusa 1 and 2 missions, and the proposed NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is scientifically beneficial.
HermesHermes is an experimental microgravity facility that enables science experiments, microgravity exposure testing, testing of engineering components, testing of CubeSats, concept trials, and any payloads that fit within the Hermes design and operations constraints. It is open to any investigation that benefits from microgravity exposure.
Hermes employs four sub-experiments at a given time, all interchangeable by the crew. Each new set of four sub-experiments is called a Science Payload, and one set is replaced at a time to minimize vibration disturbances to experiments. The sub-experiments are constrained by size and must meet certain structural and electrical interfaces. However, the design of the sub-experiments are altered per the needs of the investigator.
The nature of investigations within Hermes will be diverse, and will be determined by the investigators leading each sub-experiment. Example investigations include asteroid regolith investigations, life cycle tests of engineering components, and penetrometer and anchoring demonstrations. Any investigation that can benefit from exposure to microgravity can be incorporated into Hermes as long as it meets the specified structural, electrical, and safety standards.