суббота, 16 ноября 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of November 11, 2019













ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Nov. 15, 2019

Scientific investigations under way on the International Space Station include research on complex plasmas, controlling biofilms on spacecraft and more. On Friday, Nov. 15, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan conducted the first of a series of spacewalks to extend the life of the space station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). The AMS captures cosmic particles and measures their electrical charge in a search for dark matter and dark energy, which make up more than 90 percent of the total mass-energy of the universe.


Image above: NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano conduct preparations for an extravehicular activity (EVA) to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) on the outside of the space station to extend its search for dark matter in the universe. Image Credit: NASA.

This month marks the beginning of the 20th year of continuous human presence aboard the space station, the only platform for long-duration research in microgravity. The orbiting laboratory makes important contributions to Artemis, NASA’s program to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

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

Microgravity enables research on complex plasma

The Plasma Krystall-4 (PK-4) investigation is a collaboration between the ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) to research complex plasmas. These low-temperature gaseous mixtures are composed of ionized gas, neutral gas and micron-sized particles or micro-particles. PK-4 investigates how the micro-particles become highly charged and interact, leading to self-organized structures called plasma crystals. Due to the strong influence of gravity on micro-particles, experiments on complex plasmas require microgravity conditions. The crew conducted PK-4 sessions, catching particle clouds inside the chamber.

Controlling microorganisms on spacecraft surfaces

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Biofilms are collections of one or more types of microorganisms – including bacteria, fungi and protists – that grow on wet surfaces. In spacecraft, biofilm formation can cause equipment malfunction and human illness and it could pose a serious problem on future long-term human space missions. The crew conducted operations for the Space Biofilms investigation, which characterizes the mass, thickness, structure, and associated gene expression of biofilms that form in space. The research includes analyzing different microbial species grown on a variety of materials, the role of the material surface on formation of biofilms, and testing of a novel surface containing a lubricant.

Toward printing human organs in space

Operations continued for the BioFabrication Facility (BFF). Biological printing of the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillaries, is difficult in Earth’s gravity. Using the BFF to test the printing of human organs and tissues in microgravity is a first step toward a long-term plan to manufacture entire human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques. The facility also may help maintain the health of crews on deep space exploration missions by producing food and personalized pharmaceuticals on demand.

Mapping neutron radiation exposure


Image above: Bubble detectors for Radi-N2, an investigation by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to characterize the neutron radiation environment on the space station. Astronauts absorb larger doses of neutron radiation than expected, and mapping exposure across the space station could help reveal sources of this exposure. Image Credit: NASA.

The crew deployed detectors for Radi-N2, an investigation by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to characterize the neutron radiation environment on the space station. Neutrons are nuclear "splinters" produced when cosmic rays strike the atoms of a spacecraft or the human body. Results are expected to help define the risk posed to the health of crew members and provide data to support development of advanced protective measures for future spaceflight. Radi-N2 repeats the measurements of Radi-N1, increasing the statistical accuracy of neutron measurements and allowing comparison of neutron fields at different periods of the solar cycle.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

- ACE-T-5 examines the physical and chemical characteristics of a new class of soft materials, bijels, which have a unique structure of two liquid phases separated by a layer of small particles or colloids. Bijels have significant potential for design and synthesis of composite materials.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7500

- Rodent Research-14 uses mice to examine the effects of disruptions to the body’s circatidal rhythm or sleep/wake cycle in microgravity on a cellular and key organ level. This 12-hour body clock is an important mechanism controlling stress-responsive pathways.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7906


Animation above: NASA astronaut Jessica Meir harvests leaves from Mizuna mustard greens for analysis and consumption during the Veg-04 experiment, part of a phased research project to address the need for fresh food production in space. Animation Credit: NASA.

- Veg-04B, part of a phased research project to address the need for fresh food production in space, focuses on the effects of light quality and fertilizer on a leafy crop, Mizuna mustard greens.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7895

- NutrISS assesses the body composition of crew members during spaceflight using a device that measures long-term energy balance modification over time. Adjusting diet to maintain a near-neutral energy balance and/or increasing protein intake may limit microgravity-induced bone and muscle loss.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7875

- Ring Sheared Drop examines formation of amyloid fibrils in microgravity. Abnormal fibrous deposits found in organs and tissues, amyloid fibrils are associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7383

- Vascular Echo examines changes in blood vessels and hearts of crew members in space and their recovery upon return to Earth. Some returning crew members have much stiffer arteries after space flight.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1664

- Standard Measures captures a consistent set of measurements from crew members to characterize how their bodies adapt to living in space.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7711

- 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.
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7562

Related links:

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

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=729

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

Plasma Krystall-4 (PK-4): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1192

Space Biofilms: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7955

BioFabrication Facility (BFF): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7599

Radi-N1: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=190

Radi-N2: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=874

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

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

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

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