2017.A.4.2. Hermes – A Microgravity Facility on the ISS


Kristen John (1)

  1. NASA JSC, United States of America




CubeSat, 3U, microgravity, ISS, space station, Hermes, Strata-1


The Hermes facility is a microgravity experimental facility launching to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018.  This is a follow-on to the Strata-1 Regolith Dynamics Microgravity Experiment.  Hermes will serve as a microgravity test bed for 1U, 2U, and 3U CubeSats.

Hermes can be used to test components of CubeSats, to evaluate the overall function of a CubeSat, to test certain components in microgravity, or as a way to test science and engineering experiments that require only a 3U CubeSat volume.

Hermes is a reconfigurable on-orbit experiment facility that fits in a single locker volume on ISS.  It can accommodate four user-configurable experiment volumes at a given time, each up to 3U in size.  Hermes is equipped with a robust electrical interface that can accommodate several electrical connections.  The experiments can be “plugged in” to Hermes and removed and replaced when complete.  Experiments can operate for hours, days, or months, as appropriate to the experiment.  Cameras will be monitoring each experiment and can take imagery or video of the experiment.  Lighting is provided to illuminate the experiment if necessary.  Software commands can be uplinked from the ground to control the desired behavior of the lighting, camera, and any electrical components associated with the experiment.

Hermes is leveraging the success and heritage of the Strata-1 payload.  Strata-1 consists of four clear, polycarbonate tubes, each filled with a regolith simulant.  Strata-1 has been operating successfully on the ISS since April 2016, continuously obtaining imagery that is unveiling interesting behavior on regolith dynamics.  Strata-1’s four tubes are not reconfigurable.  Hermes is leveraging Strata-1’s design, but creating a facility that can easily be reconfigured with new experiments.  Hermes will be able to accommodate several form factors for experiments, including tubes, 1U, 2U, 3U CubeSats, and any volume that fits in the constraints of Hermes.  Each experiment will be required to meet certain safety standards and must adhere to the electrical interfaces provided.  Strata-1 is uncovering results in regolith dynamics and particle behavior.  Hermes will open up the realm of possibility to study a countless number of science and engineering problems in the microgravity environment of the ISS.  Users of Hermes simply have to provide experiments that meet the Hermes interface requirements, giving scientists and engineers a quick and cost-effective way to test ideas and components in space.


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