Colloids are blends of microscopic particles suspended in fluids ( fluids are substances that are partly solid and partly liquid). Colloids can be observed in products including toothpaste, ketchup, etc., and are part of a field of study realized as soft matter.
To collect more data about colloids, researchers required a unique tool that would enable them to observe deep into the world of these tiny particles. That’s when NASA’s LMM—the Light Microscopy Module arrived.
Since 2009, scientists and researchers from six countries, including 27 universities and research organizations, have expended thousands of hours utilizing the remarkable power of this state-of-the-art light imaging confocal microscope facility to examine a variety of physical and biological phenomena.
Private companies have utilized the LMM to discover new ways to improve consumer products. Procter & Gamble, for example, earned approval on three patent applications for new products as a direct outcome of the company’s research utilizing the LMM.
Since installation, the LMM has been utilized in 40 experiments, capturing images and helping scientists and engineers understand the forces that regulate the organization and dynamics of matter at microscopic scales. The LMM has assisted in making the invisible world of colloids more noticeable.
Museum experts hope that one day, LMM can be conserved for others to interact with on Earth. Lauren Katz, program manager of NASA Artifacts and Exhibits, announced that she would be excited to supervise LMM’s potential use in future NASA exhibits and loan to museums. “We feel the inclusion of the LMM could serve as a fascinating introduction to how science in space can be conducted from Earth,” announces Katz. “Further, because the microscope is controlled remotely, we believe this interactive feature could serve as the ‘cool’ factor as visitors control the microscope (or representative device) themselves.”