суббота, 12 октября 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of October 7, 2019

ISS — Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Oct. 11, 2019

While it was a week full of spacewalks, the crew aboard the International Space Station fit in some science during the week of Oct. 7. In addition to prepping for a series of battery Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), research conducted included collecting air quality samples, watering veggies and recharging free-flying robot assistants. Research like this conducted aboard the space station is a crucial stepping stone for Artemis, NASA’s plans to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

Image above: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan takes an out-of-this-world «space-selfie» during a spacewalk to upgrade space station power systems on the Port-6 (P6) truss structure. He and fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch (out of frame) worked for about seven hours to begin the latest round of upgrading the station’s large nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details on some of the science conducted on the orbiting laboratory during the week:

Checking out the air

This past week, the crew helped collect samples for the Spacecraft Atmosphere Monitor (S.A.M.). One of the most important conditions associated with crew health during spaceflight is air quality. Currently, atmosphere quality aboard the space station is assessed by periodic sampling and ground-based analysis using sophisticated instruments. Since samples cannot be returned to Earth during future exploration missions, a complement of smaller and more reliable instruments such as S.A.M. becomes essential to monitor the crew environment.

It’s planting season

Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch checks progress on small plant pillows for the Veg-04B investigation. Veg-04B focuses on the effects of light quality and fertilizer on the leafy Mizuna mustard green crop, microbial food safety, nutritional value and the taste acceptability by the crew. Image Credit: NASA.

Watering crops on the space station is a bit different than on Earth. Rather than pouring water onto soil, the crew injected water to small plant pillows that provide needed water to the growing veggies. This is part of Veg-04B, one piece of a phased research project attempting to address the need for a continuous fresh-food production system in space to supplement typical pre-packaged foods for astronauts. Veg-04B focuses on the effects of light quality and fertilizer on the leafy Mizuna mustard green crop, microbial food safety, nutritional value and the taste acceptability by the crew.

Image above: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan reviews procedures the day before the EVA that took place on Oct. 6 to upgrade the space station’s batteries. Image Credit: NASA.

Getting charged up

The free-flying robot facility known as Astrobee got its batteries charged up this week. The facility is designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies that can assist astronauts with routine chores and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring and sampling and logistics management. The robots accommodate up to three investigations.

Animation above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch spins a Grab Sample Container, a device that is used for collecting environmental samples for the Spacecraft Atmosphere Monitor.
Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

— The brain is capable of self-regulating blood flow even when the heart and blood vessels cannot maintain an ideal blood pressure. The Cerebral Autoregulation investigation tests whether this self-regulation improves in the microgravity environment of space.

— The Food Physiology experiment is designed to characterize the key effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome and nutritional status indicators.

— Actiwatch is a nonintrusive, wearable monitor that analyzes a crew member’s circadian rhythms, sleep-wake patterns and activity.

— ISS Ham Radio provides students, teachers, parents and other members of the community an opportunity to communicate directly with astronauts using Ham radio units.

— Food Acceptability examines changes in the appeal of food aboard the space station during long-duration missions. “Menu fatigue” from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases.

— The Microgravity Crystals investigation crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Results may support development of cancer treatments that target the protein more effectively and with fewer side effects.

— BEST studies the use of DNA sequencing to identify unknown microbial organisms and improve understanding of how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space.

Related links:

Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html

Artemis: https://www.nasa.gov/artemis

Spacecraft Atmosphere Monitor (S.A.M.): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1843

Veg-04B: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7895

Astrobee: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=1891

ISS National Lab: https://www.issnationallab.org/

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), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expedition 61.

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