The article is a depressing catalogue of NASA-ESA stupidity and inefficiency.
They installed two experiments on the "gleaming hull" of the Colombus module. One is the "sun-watching SOLAR experiment"--no explanation given as to what the hell it does, other that look at the sun. The other is a "...a nine-instrument exposure facility to monitor the space environment and test new materials...."
In other words, it's a bracket to which they attach stuff that they want to expose to the conditions of low earth orbit. And there are "instruments" which monitor various parameters of these materials.
What a good place for a sun-watching experiment! Put it on a platform in a low equatorial orbit where its view of the sun is occluded about 50% of the time. That's brilliant. (So to speak.)
ISS exists primarily to give the Shuttle something to do; and the Shuttle exists primarily to aid the existence of ISS. All told it's a complete waste of money and effort. I'd rather see NASA shut down all manned operations and get Ares on-line faster, to be honest, because at least that way we'll have a booster capable of lifting more than 20 tons at a time.
Then maybe we can do some actual work in space. Not useless beetle-tracking for postdocs.