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From ice cream to cosmetics, the perfect formula has been studied in orbit - space and astronomy

From ice cream to cosmetics, the perfect formula has been studied in orbit – space and astronomy

The ideal combination of cream ice cream, safer cosmetics and environmentally friendly paints: this is what we will try to achieve in orbit thanks to the international experiment ‘Pasta’ (PArticle STAbilized emulsions and foams), which in the next four months under the European Space Agency (ESA) will study the behavior of foams and emulsions in microgravity conditions on the International Space Station (ISS). Coordinated by the National Research Council (Cnr-Icmate) and conducted with the contribution of the University of Parma, the experiment was conducted on board the space station with the Cygnus shuttle, which is scheduled to launch on Saturday 19 February at 6.40 pm (Italian). time) from Wallops Base in Virginia (USA).

“Our goal is to optimize formulations of emulsions to reduce the amount of surfactants, or additives that could have an impact on human health and the environment,” explains project coordinator, Libero Liggieri of Cnr-Icmate. “Emulsifiers such as ice cream, butter, cosmetic creams or paints, are unstable systems: we will study them in orbit to better understand the underlying mechanisms that govern them, thus eliminating the effect of gravity separating the aqueous phase from the oil phase.”

Scientists from the United States, France, Germany, Greece and Japan are working on the project, as well as 6 non-academic partners, including the giant Unilever, together with the future culinary University of Parma. In this, the research team “Laboratory for Molecular Nanotechnologies” of the University of Parma, coordinated by Professor Luigi Christofolini, plays a key role in the implementation and interpretation of micro-spectroscopy experiments.
The role of the research group at the University of Parma is not limited to data analysis, as it is also the main responsible for it within the project: precisely because of the expertise of excellence in the field of spectroscopy technology, it is up to the Unipr group, together with the partners, to define the measurement protocols; Moreover, some of the samples that will be brought into orbit and analyzed have been identified and purchased by researchers from the University of Parma.

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