UCL Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering


NIMFS in Space – UCL CNIE’s research on board the International Space Station

12 January 2022

On board the International Space Station (ISS), installation and testing of ‘Touching Surfaces’ is underway – including UCL's Centre for Nature-Inspired Engineering (CNIE) Nature-Inspired, Multi-Functional Surfaces (NIMFS).


ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer with ‘Touching Surfaces’. Credit: ESA/NASA

After their arrival on the ISS, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet successfully installed five ‘Touching Surfaces’ in the Columbus and the Destiny laboratories, as well as in Node 2 and 3. Since then, they are being tested for 15 weeks by ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, as part of ESA’s Cosmic Kiss mission.

‘Touching Surfaces’ is a collaborative hardware of Aerospace Microbiology at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (BRSU), Saarland University, and the Centre for Nature-Inspired Engineering (CNIE) at UCL. It consists of novel surfaces that are exposed to the indoor environment of the ISS and tested for their antimicrobial and humidity response. More information on the Touching Surfaces project and the NIMFS developed at the CNIE can be found here.


Fully Assembled Touching Surface Array. Arrow shows the locations of the NIMFS. Credit: DLR.


ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet installing the Touching Surfaces. Credit: ESA/NASA