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You can see below a picture of Steven Swanson doing a detailed tour of the ISS.

I was wondering what is that frame with rubber bands on the right? It just seems to block access to the racks behind.

Maybe they are not rubber bands. But they are wide and look strong. It is not just a net. It looks like the frame could hold 100s of Kg in normal gravity. I can't see what it can be used for in the ISS. I thought it could be related to the exercise bike, but it is not aligned with it.

Anyone knows its use?

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I have no specific knowledge of this so posting as a comment. That rack is the Fluids Integrated Rack, part of the ISS Fluids and Combustion Facility. My guess is that "screen door" thing is to keep the crew from bumping the rack and disturbing experiments going on inside it. But just a guess. $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2020 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble if it's a "combustion facility" then maybe those catch the doors when they are blown off their hinges by an explosion? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 21, 2020 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh that microscope you asked about is in there. ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20030093720.pdf $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2020 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh yes, that is it. $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2020 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, in the video on Youtube (at 11:15) Steven describes the rack as a fluid combustion facility, and also that it currently holds a pretty large microscope. In general these racks contains experiments controled from the ground. So far the explanation "it prevents people from bumping into it to prevent disturbance" makes the most sense to me. $\endgroup$
    – Florian F
    Jun 22, 2020 at 11:07

2 Answers 2

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I asked Founding Director of the Space for Art Foundation and former astronaut Nicole Stott about this, she kindly gave me permission to quote her.

That is meant to be a protective kind of shield for the rack - to keep people from hitting the rack or using the hand rails for translation (so the rack stays as "still" as possible for the micro-g research).

Here's Nicole working on the rack during one of her missions.

enter image description here

(Image source NASA Glenn)

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    $\begingroup$ it looks like I had the wrong polarity; I'd thought it was to protect the humans from the experiments, but it's to protect the experiments from the humans! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 28, 2020 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble exactly as you guessed. Thanks for the "official" confirmation. Say hello to Nicole :-). $\endgroup$
    – Florian F
    Jun 28, 2020 at 15:06
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That's the Microgravity Rack Barrier protecting FIR (Fluids Integrated Rack) from disturbances while it's utilizing the Passive Rack Isolation System (PaRIS) during science ops.

Both CIR and FIR use PaRIS

which provides a non-rigid mechanical connection between the CIR [or FIR] and ISS structure using eight spring-damper isolators and umbilical cables.

Source: https://www.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/acceleration-environment-iss-mini-book_detail-508c.pdf

Even though the ISS is a microgravity environment, there are still vibrations in the structure itself due to crew exercise and other payload or system operations performed nearby. PaRIS minimizes any vibration transference to the rack utilizing it.

FIR was originally designed with an Active Vibration Isolation System (ARIS), but was later converted to PaRIS as well.

Fun fact, astronaut Jack Fischer (2Fish) decided to print out an image of MC Hammer captioned "Stop: Science Time" whenever sensitive microgravity ops were being performed in CIR. Unfortunately no studies were performed on its effectiveness vs that of the Microgravity Rack Barrier.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ ha, I can imagine "study: do astronauts pay attention to signs or need to be physically isolated from sensitive things" would have gone great :D welcome to the site $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Jan 25 at 23:41

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