An automobile lies crushed under the third story of this apartment building in the Marina District after the Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake. The ground levels are no longer visible because of structural failure and sinking due to liquefaction. Sand and soil grains have faces that can cause friction as they roll and slide against each other, or even cause sticking and form small voids between grains. This complex behavior can cause soil to behave like a liquid under certain conditions such as earthquakes or when powders are handled in industrial processes. Mechanics of Granular Materials (MGM) experiments aboard the Space Shuttle use the microgravity of space to simulate this behavior under conditons that carnot be achieved in laboratory tests on Earth. MGM is shedding light on the behavior of fine-grain materials under low effective stresses. Applications include earthquake engineering, granular flow technologies (such as powder feed systems for pharmaceuticals and fertilizers), and terrestrial and planetary geology. Nine MGM specimens have flown on two Space Shuttle flights. Another three are scheduled to fly on STS-107. The principal investigator is Stein Sture of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Credit: J.K. Nakata, U.S. Geological Survey.