Newswise — Los Angeles, CA -- NASA has awarded Cal State LA two grants to conduct materials science experiments with the International Space Station.

The grants are made through NASA’s Physical Sciences Research program and will provide a total of $840,000 in funding.

Using simulation, the research will examine how materials solidify under different circumstances—in space, in the absence of gravity, and on earth where gravity is present.

“This will provide valuable contributions to the understanding of microstructural evolution and solidification mechanisms in the absence and presence of gravity,” said Mohsen Eshraghi, a mechanical engineering professor at Cal State LA, who is involved with both grants.

One study examines pore formation in alloys during solidification. A second study focuses on the formation of microstructures during alloy solidification. Microstructure is the small scale structure of the materials; the tiny features that can be observed under a microscope.

The studies will use flight experimental data from the International Space Station, which is currently stored in the NASA Physical Sciences Informatics (PSI). PSI is an online database of past and current physical science space station flight experiments.

Eshraghi is the lead principal investigator on one grant and a co-principal investigator on the second. Both projects include researchers from the University of Akron and Cleveland State University.

The research is expected to be useful for future in-space fabrication processes involving solidification.

“The results will also be very useful for a variety of manufacturing industries including automotive and aerospace,” explained Eshraghi, who is an expert in materials science and manufacturing.

The Physical Sciences Research Program is managed by the Space Life and Physical Sciences Division in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The program furthers fundamental research, which investigates physical phenomena in the absence of gravity and fundamental laws of the universe, and applied research, which contributes to the basic understanding underlying space exploration technologies that will further our journey to Mars. Both have led to improved space systems or new products on Earth.