суббота, 23 ноября 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of November 18, 2019

ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Nov. 22, 2019

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted research on remote-controlled rovers, launched scientific satellites and connected with people on the ground. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano conducted a second spacewalk in as many weeks on Friday, Nov. 22, part of a series to extend the life of the space station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). The AMS captures data from cosmic particle impacts, and with more than 140 billion impacts documented to date, indicates sources of positrons at high energies that could be evidence of dark matter. This invisible form of matter makes up most of the mass content of the universe.

Image above: ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm during the first spacewalk to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which captures data from cosmic particle impacts in a search for evidence of dark matter. 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. Learning to live and work in space is one of the biggest challenges of long-duration spaceflight, and the experience gained on the space station supports Artemis, NASA’s program to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

Here are details on some of the science conducted on the orbiting lab the week of Nov. 18:

Sending rovers to test the waters

Analog-1 tests operating an exploration rover on Moon-like terrain on Earth from the space station. An astronaut controls the rover as it collects rock and soil samples and remotely investigates them, a plausible scenario for future lunar or Martian exploration. The crew performed a successful proficiency simulation run in preparation for the science run next week, using the rover to locate several rocks and perform appropriate maneuvers to pick up some of them. Future exploration of the solar system may send robotic explorers to uncharted planets before sending humans and Analog-1 is part of the METERON project, a European initiative to help prepare for such human-robotic exploration missions. It involves a series of preparatory steps toward gaining the experience needed to support operations of combined human and robotic elements on a planetary surface.

Small satellites that do big jobs

Image above: NASA astronaut Drew Morgan prepares CubeSats for their launch from the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD). The launch includes three satellites, one each from Japan, Egypt and Rwanda, with flags from the last two countries visible on the equipment. Image Credit: NASA.

Crew members used the Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer-12 (JSSOD – 12) to launch CubeSats from Japan, Rwanda and Egypt. The J-SSOD provides launch capability for small satellites using the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) on the outside of the space station. Japan’s AQT-D CubeSat tests a propulsion system using water as a propellant. The Egyptian CubeSat NARSScube-1, which carries a small camera, provides experience building and operating a CubeSat, demonstrates technology for producing reliable data from space and promotes applied research in space engineering at Egyptian universities and research institutes. RWASAT-1 from Rwanda provides Earth observation capabilities for environmental, agricultural and other applications in that country.

Connecting with the space station

Two programs connect people on the ground and aboard the space station: ISS HAM, which gives students an opportunity to talk directly with crew members via ham radio, and The ISS Experience, which is currently filming a virtual reality cinematic experience about different aspects of crew life, execution of science and the international partnerships involved. The crew conducted an ISS HAM Pass with students from Lakeside Elementary School in Utah, with questions ranging from their thoughts on the first all-female spacewalk to how a spaceship is driven. Crew members also filmed several segments for The ISS Experience, including installation of the J-SSOD-12 satellite deployer and footage to explain the general concept of an airlock.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

- Radi-N2, an investigation by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), characterizes the neutron radiation environment on the space station to help define the risk to crew members and support development of advanced protective measures for future spaceflight.

- 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.

- 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.

Image above: NASA astronauts Jessica Meir, left, and Christina Koch harvest a crop of Mizuna mustard greens grown for the Veg-04B investigation, part of a phased research project to address the need for fresh food production in space. Image Credit: NASA.

- NutrISS, an investigation by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), 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.

- 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.

- Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. On future long-duration missions, fresh-baked food could have psychological and physiological benefits for crew members.