Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)


Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) flew in Cape Canaveral on Zero-G’s November 2013 Weightless Lab research program to raise the technical readiness level (TRL) status of two of SwRI’s suborbital program experiments. Our experiments, the BORE (Box of Rocks Experiment) and SWUIS (Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System) payloads – a microgravity regolith study focused on understanding the surface properties and process on small near-Earth asteroids and a broadband astronomy/aeronomy imaging system, respectively – are largely built and ready for flight test and data collection in preparation for suborbital space flights for which we have already contracted. However, until these experiments have been flight demonstrated under zero-g conditions like those that will be experienced during suborbital flights, we run the risk that the experiment payloads will not perform as expected during actual suborbital flights, thereby wasting a precious and expensive research opportunity.

BORE: The BORE experiment is designed to test regolith interactions in a microgravity environment using high-resolution imaging to measure interaction timescales and forces to derive physical properties such as the coefficient of restitution. The BORE payload consists primarily of two transparent boxes enclosing the rock regolith simulant.

SWUIS: The SWUIS telescope is a battery powered, UV-visible camera system attached to a lens and controlled by a laptop for astronomy and remote-sensing applications. It consists of a Xybion camera, lens, a Power Interface Control Box (PIB), its battery (PIB battery), a tablet viewer, and a laptop (with framegrabber). SWUIS can be used for any application requiring wide-FOV platforms, downward- and upward-looking. Applications include orbital debris studies, Leonids meteor campaigns, comet observations, aeronomy investigations, studies of lightning and sprites/jet and ozone monitoring.

Dr. Dan Durda describes BORE and SWUIS equipment and functionality along with SwRI’s in-flight procedures at the Zero-G test readiness review.

The SwRI team performs in-flight testing during zero gravity parabolas on the Zero-G Weightless Lab.

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