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Here on Earth, gravity makes it impossible to precisely determine temperatures and pressures when fluids change state or to observe the solidification growing structures of materials. Ideally, such observations are best performed in space on a platform like the International Space Station (ISS), which is exactly what CNES did between 2009 and 2014 with its DECLIC mini-laboratory (Dispositif d’Etude de la Croissance et des LIquides Critiques).
Housed inside a NASA science rack, DECLIC operated three experiment inserts in turn for periods of 3 to 6 months: HTI (High Temperature Insert), ALI (Alice Like Insert) and DSI (Directional Solidification Insert). Experiments are monitored and controlled from CADMOS at CNES.
Back on Earth for maintenance, DECLIC is now on its way back to the station sent aloft on 17 October 2016
The success and value of DECLIC has encouraged NASA and CNES to plan a successor to DECLIC. DECLIC Evolutions should include new scientific inserts, continuing to work with NASA, which is interested especially in waste disposal on its future crewed spaceflights, using ‘supercritical’ water to disassemble organic molecules.