The experiments in the Columbus space laboratory


ESA-Astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 37, im HRF-1-Experiment (Bild: NASA)
ESA-astronaut Luca Parmitano, Expedition 37, in the HRF-1-experiment (Bild: NASA)

NASA uses Columbus for its research in mutual interest: By grouping the facilities for the study of human physiology (EPM, HRF1 and HRF2), a uniquely equipped space laboratory has been created for this purpose.

The Human Research Facility 1 (HRF1) integrates an ultrasound device, which we use for experiments: Researchers can use it to visualize and study a wide variety of changes in the human body caused by the absence of gravity. On the other hand, the device is also available for real medical purposes: Certain examinations are regularly performed on all crew members – and the ultrasound can also be used to diagnose medical complications.


HRF1 also contains our “space scales.” In weightlessness, the “earthly weighing methods”, which mostly use the weight force caused by the earth’s gravity, are doomed to fail. Therefore, SLAMMD uses a trick: Not the “heavy mass” is measured, but the “inertial mass”: The astronaut straps himself to a kind of stamp that moves him back and forth – and the software can calculate his weight from the resistance that his body puts up against this movement.


The experiments in the Columbus space laboratory