суббота, 30 ноября 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of November 25, 2019

ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Nov. 29, 2019

Current scientific research conducted aboard the International Space Station includes investigations on maintaining human health in space, the body’s circatidal cycle and growing moss in microgravity. Crew members prepared for the third in a series of spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02), scheduled to be conducted by Luca Parmitano of the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA’s Andrew Morgan on Dec. 2. In addition, the crew made ready for the arrival of additional scientific experiments aboard the 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19), scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Dec. 4, 2019.

Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch and ROSCOSMOS cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka assisted NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano with their second spacewalk to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Image Credit: NASA.

The space station is now in its 20th year of continuous human presence. Learning to live and work in space is one of the biggest challenges of long-duration spaceflight, and 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 under way on the orbiting lab:

Measuring how the body adapts to space

Standard Measures captures an ongoing, optimized set of measures from crew members in order to characterize how their bodies adapt to living in space. Ground teams perform analyses for metabolic and chemistry panels, immune function, microbiome, and other measures to create a repository of the data. This repository enables high-level monitoring of the effectiveness of countermeasures and more meaningful interpretation of health and performance outcomes. The investigation also supports future research on planetary missions. The crew performed pre-sleep questionnaire data collection.

Testing microgravity’s effects on the 12-hour body clock

Image above: This image taken from the space station shows the Mediterranean Sea looking toward the Gulf of Suez. Scientists use images of Earth such as this one for research in a variety of fields. Image Credit: NASA.

Throughout the week, crew members performed Rodent Research-14 science sessions. This investigation uses mice to examine the effects of microgravity on the body’s circatidal rhythm or sleep/wake cycle on a cellular and key organ level. The body’s 12-hour clock is an important mechanism for controlling stress-responsive pathways. The space station makes it possible to expose cellular systems in mice to the stress of microgravity and study both cellular adaptation and organismal behavior responses to that stress.

Tiny plants, big potential

Image above: These Mizuna mustard greens growing aboard the International Space Station support development of food production in space agriculture to provide fresh food for crews on deep space missions. The Veg-04B investigation focuses on the effects of red-to-blue lighting on the plants. Image Credit: NASA.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Space Moss investigation grows mosses aboard the space station, and simultaneously on Earth, to determine how microgravity affects their growth, development, gene expression, photosynthetic activity and other features. Tiny plants without roots, mosses grow in a very small area, which represents an advantage for their potential use on long space voyages and future bases on the Moon or Mars. Crew members prepped the Plant Observation Dishes, which incubate for one, two and three days and then are placed in the JAXA Fluorescence Microscope for observation. Teams on the ground control all observations and downlink image data.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

- Analog-1 tests operating an exploration rover on Moon-like terrain on Earth from the space station. It is part of the METERON project, an ESA (European Space Agency) initiative to help prepare for human-robotic exploration on future missions.

- 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.

- 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. The final harvest for this investigation occurred on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.

- 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.