вторник, 4 июня 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of May 27, 2019

ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.

June 3, 2019

Science experiments conducted on the International Space Station last week included installation of new monitoring tools, research on the immune system in space, and validating manual back-up navigation systems. These and many other investigations on the space station support NASA’s Moon to Mars program and its initial goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2024.

Image above: NASA astronaut Nick Hague exercises while astronaut Christina Koch works in the rodent habitat on an investigation examining the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory using a mouse model. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details on some of the scientific investigations that the members of Expedition 59 conducted during the week of May 27:

Testing immune response in real time

RR-12, Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS), examines the effects of spaceflight on antibody production and immune memory. Previous research shows that spaceflight has a dramatic influence on immune response, but scientists have yet to determine how it affects an inflight challenge to the body’s immune system. This investigation may advance development of measures to counter such effects and help maintain crew health during future long-duration space missions. Last week, the crew stowed Habitat 1 for return on the SpaceX Dragon currently docked to the station.

Animation above: Preparations for the (MVP Cell-01) investigation on how spaceflight affects the biology of musculoskeletal disease. Developing therapeutics to prevent bone and cartilage degradation in space could help protect astronauts on future long-term missions. Animation Credit: NASA.

Navigating the old-fashioned way

The crew performed lunar sightings for the Sextant Navigation investigation, which tests using a hand-held sextant on a spacecraft, focusing on stability and star sighting opportunities. While not intended as a replacement for primary navigation systems, the sextant offers another option for crews to navigate a spacecraft home should radio communications and main spacecraft computers become compromised. The sextant sighting technique is flexible and independent of vehicle type. Results from this investigation support development of emergency navigation methods for future Orion exploration missions.

Growing crystals, inspiring the next generation

Image above: NASA astronaut Nick Hague works on the CASIS PCG 14 investigation, which teaches middle and high school students about the capabilities and constraints of conducting an experiment in microgravity and helps inspire the next generation of explorers. Image Credit: NASA.

A number of investigations have shown that crystals grow larger and with fewer imperfections in microgravity. One of the latest investigations, CASIS PCG 14, explores closed-system crystallization of inorganic salts from aqueous solutions using evaporation, and examines translation of a previously optimized thermal-gradient inorganic salt crystallization procedure to other systems. Middle and high school students competed to grow the highest-quality ground-based crystals, and experts in crystallography selected those with the fewest imperfections to fly on the space station. Such student-led investigations encourage and inspire the next generation of researchers and explorers for future missions. The crew disassembled the two PCG-14 sample jars last week to photograph crystal growth on the membrane interface.

New tool installed while another ends its mission

The crew recently installed an important new monitoring tool on the space station. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) on the Japanese Experiment Module-Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) observes the complex dynamics of the Earth’s atmospheric carbon cycle. Its space-based measurements help to improve the understanding of surface carbon dioxide sources and sinks on a regional scale, as well as the processes controlling their seasonal variability.

Image above: The red circle indicates the location of the Space Communications and Navigation Testbed (SCAN Testbed) during its deployment on the outside of the space station. Image Credit: NASA.

The Space Communications and Navigation Testbed (SCAN Testbed) allowed mission planners to change radio functions post-launch, making it possible to adapt to increased data flow, potentially resolve problems with the communications system, and otherwise support an ongoing mission. Upon its completion, the crew packed the investigation into the Dragon capsule for disposal.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

— Rodent Research-12 (RR-12) examines the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory using a mouse model: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7868

— At Home in Space assesses astronaut adaptation in order to support development of adaptive strategies to help crew members handle the isolated and confined environment of a space craft. Creating a sense of home in space could help improve astronaut health, well-being and performance on long-duration missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1727

— Residual Momentum and Tank Dynamics in Microgravity Environment (Furphy) tests the transfer of fluids from a rigid to a collapsible tank that expands as it fills. This capability supports future space exploration by making it possible to fuel small spacecraft in orbit instead of prior to launch, potentially saving launch mass and volume: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7842

— The ISS Experience documents daily life aboard the space station through a virtual reality film to educate a variety of audiences about life in the orbiting lab and science conducted there: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7877

— MicroAlgae studies the effects of microgravity on Haematococcus pluvialis. This tiny freshwater algae can produce astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that could be useful as a food supplement on long space missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7689

— Veggie PONDS uses a newly developed passive nutrient delivery system and the Veggie Cell plant growth facility to cultivate lettuce and greens on the space station for on-orbit consumption and analysis on Earth: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7581

— Micro-14 extends previous studies on the yeast Candida albicans, seeking to define mechanisms behind its cellular adaptation to spaceflight, potentially contributing to maintenance of crew member health during long-duration spaceflight: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7642

— Probiotics studies using beneficial bacteria or probiotics to improve the intestinal microbiota and immune function in crew members on long-duration space missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2047

Space to Ground: Saluting an Icon: 05/31/2019

Related links:

Expedition 59: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition59/index.html

RR-12: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7868

Sextant Navigation: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7646

CASIS PCG 14: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7809

Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1786

Space Communications and Navigation Testbed (SCAN Testbed): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=156

MVP Cell-01: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7663

Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 59/60.

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