ABSTRACT: A facility-based protein crystallization apparatus for microgravity (PCAM) has been constructed and flown on a series of Space Shuttle Missions. The hardware development was undertaken largely because of the many important examples of quality improvements gained from crystal growth in the diffusion-limited environment in space. The concept was based on the adaptation for microgravity of a commonly available crystallization tray to increase sample density, to facilitate co-investigator participation and to improve flight logistics and handling. A co-investigator group representing scientists from industry, academia, and government laboratories has been established. Microgravity applications of the hardware have produced improvements in a number of structure-based crystallographic studies and include examples of enabling research. Additionally, the facility has been used to support fundamental research in protein crystal growth which has delineated factors contributing to the effect of microgravity on the growth and quality of protein crystals.
Journal of Crystal Growth.