воскресенье, 6 октября 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of September 30, 2019

ISS — Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Oct. 6, 2019

Scientific studies conducted aboard the International Space Station the week of Sept. 30 included crystal growth, analyses of human immune function and more. The station population briefly totaled nine people; Expedition 61 crew members arrived Sept. 25 and on Oct. 3, ROSCOSMOS spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin of ROSCOSMOS departed. Hague and Ovchinin each completed a mission of more than 200 days. 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: The JAXA HTV-8 transfer vehicle is seen attached to the space station as it flies 258 miles above the Sudan. CanadArm2 is poised to remove a pallet loaded with new lithium-ion batteries that astronauts plan to install and activate during a series of spacewalks this fall. Image Credit: NASA.

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

Improving Upon Crystal Growth

The crew performed operations for Advanced Nano Step, a 35-day crystal growth experiment. More than 20 years of research have shown that microgravity enables growth of high quality protein crystals, but success rates have improved by 20 to 60 percent at most. This investigation monitors and records the effect of specific impurity molecules to determine how to improve on the quality and success rate of crystals grown in microgravity.

Secrets in Saliva

The space station provides a platform for long-duration research on the human body in microgravity, a critical part of planning for future exploration of the Moon and Mars. Two such investigations currently underway focus on changes in the immune system that occur during spaceflight and could increase the likelihood of crew health problems. Functional Immune analyzes blood and saliva samples to determine the changes taking place in the immune systems of crew members during flight. The Probiotics investigation studies whether beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, can improve the intestinal microbiota of crew members and perhaps help boost immune function on long space missions. The crew collected saliva samples for both investigations and completed a questionnaire for Probiotics.

Image above: The International Space Station briefly had a population of nine the week of Sept. 30. Shown here in the Zvezda service module are cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, astronauts Luca Parmitano and Nick Hague (bottom row, from left), Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, astronaut Jessica Meir and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka (middle), and astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov (top). Almansoori, Hague and Ovchinin departed Oct. 3 to return to Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

Getting a Grip

The crew performed sessions for the GRIP experiment, an investigation from the European Space Agency that tests how the nervous system takes into account forces due to gravity and inertia when an individual manipulates objects. Results may provide insight into potential hazards for astronauts working in environments with different levels of gravity. The investigation also supports design and control of haptic interfaces, or systems that allow humans to interact with a computer through bodily sensations and movements, as in virtual reality games. GRIP provides information about motor control that also could be useful in evaluation and rehabilitation of patients with neurological diseases on Earth.

Image above: European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano participates in a hearing test for Acoustic Diagnostics, an investigation that tests the hearing of crew members before, during, and after flight. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:
— Veg-04B, part of a phased research project to address the need for a continuous fresh-food production system in space, focuses on the effects of light quality and fertilizer on a leafy crop, Mizuna mustard greens.

— Acoustic Diagnostics tests the hearing of crew members before, during, and after flight to assess possible adverse effects of noise and the microgravity environment of the space station.

— The Microgravity Crystals investigation crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival.

— 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.

— Standard Measures captures a consistent set of measures from crew members to characterize how their bodies adapt to living in space.

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

— The ISS Experience creates virtual reality videos from footage covering different aspects of crew life, execution of science and the international partnerships involved on the space station.

— Sally Ride EarthKAM allows students to control a special digital camera to photograph geographic items of interest on Earth from the unique vantage point of space. The EarthKAM team posts these photographs for viewing by the public and participating classrooms around the world.

— 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

Advanced Nano Step: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7468

Functional Immune: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2011

Probiotics: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2047

GRIP: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1188

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), Text, Credits: NASA/Carrie Gilder/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expedition 60.

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