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MVIS: Shielding science experiments from vibrations

Physical science

The Microgravity Vibration Isolation Subsystem (MVIS) is a Canadian technology that uses a magnetic field to protect science experiments from vibrations aboard the International Space Station (ISS).


Space is ideal for testing various phenomena in the absence of gravity. However, many vibrations are produced aboard the Space Station, for example, when:

These jolting movements can be strong enough to interfere with delicate experiments, like those involving fluid physics, crystal growth and the development of metal alloys.

By using a series of electromagnet coils and magnets to suspend its inner container, MVIS guards against vibrations that could alter the results of these experiments.

Developed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the microwave-sized device was added to the ISS's Fluid Science Laboratory in .

MVIS: Microgravity Vibration Isolation System

MVIS (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)


MVIS was designed to provide:

An engineer at the CSA's David Florida Laboratory prepares the MVIS for launch to the ISS. (Credit: CSA)

How it works

MVIS uses a magnetic field to keep an inner chamber in suspension. Delicate science experiments are conducted inside the magnetically suspended container.

Sensors and an onboard computer monitor and control the inner container's position to ensure it remains stable within the limits needed for the experiment.

To suspend its inner chamber, MVIS uses magnetic levitation. On Earth, the most common application of this physical principle is in maglev trains, which hover above their magnetic tracks and can accelerate and slow down much faster than traditional trains.


CSA astronaut Robert Thirsk activates MVIS in the Fluid Science Laboratory aboard the ISS. (Credit: NASA)


The project was first developed in by the CSA as a contribution to the European Space Agency's Fluid Science Laboratory. MVIS has been a permanent fixture aboard the Station since .

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