суббота, 7 декабря 2019 г.

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of December 2, 2019

ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

Dec. 6, 2019

Crew members conducted a variety of investigations aboard the International Space Station during the week of Dec. 2, including research into wearable health sensors and using DNA to understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. On Monday, Luca Parmitano of the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA’s Andrew Morgan completed their third in a series of spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). The crew also prepared to welcome the 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19) carrying supplies and new scientific experiments, which launched Dec. 5.

The space station, now in its 20th year of continuous human presence, conducts research critical to future missions such as Artemis, NASA’s program to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.

Here are details on some of the scientific investigations taking place on the orbiting lab:

Smart shirt supports health research

Image above: Crew members collect microbial DNA samples by swabbing surfaces in the space station and process them using the Biomolecule Sequencer as shown here. The device enables direct sequencing to identify microbes able to survive in microgravity. Image Credit: NASA.

To monitor their health and conduct health-related experiments aboard the space station, astronauts use a variety of medical devices. These devices can be bulky and invasive and their use often is disruptive and time-consuming. The Canadian Space Agency developed the Bio-Monitor, a device that uses wearable sensors to monitor and record heart rate, respiration rate, skin temperature and other parameters during an astronaut's daily routine. The smart vest can unobtrusively collect data for up to 48 hours and send it to the ground. Crew members updated software and conducted checks of the Bio-Monitor in preparation for additional testing.

Swabbing and sequencing in space

Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) tests the use of DNA sequencing to observe microbial responses to spaceflight, which can improve our understanding of how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. BEST uses a process that does not require cultivation of organisms prior to processing and can identify microbes aboard the space station not detected by current culture-based methods. The crew collected samples via swabbing at specific locations and stored them in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) for later return to Earth for processing. Crew members also removed frozen liquid cultures from MELFI for incubation on the space station, after which they will sequence part of the cultures and store other parts for return to Earth for DNA and RNA sequencing.

Animation above: Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut David Saint-Jacques wearing the Bio-Monitor vest while exercising on the space station. The vest, currently undergoing testing aboard the space station, contains various sensors to unobtrusively monitor astronaut health and contribute to health-related experiments. Animation Credits: Canadian Space Agency.

No more boring menus

Food Acceptability examines how the appeal of food to astronauts changes 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. Crew members completed questionnaires evaluating each food and beverage in one meal for overall acceptability. Astronauts complete questionnaires at regular intervals and various times of day for a total of 26 times during their mission.

Image above: The crew shared a special Thanksgiving meal aboard the space station, a break from what can be a repetitive, limited menu (left to right, Christina Koch, Alexander Skvortsov, Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka, Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano). The ongoing Food Acceptability investigation examines changes in the appeal of food that can occur during long-duration missions. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

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

- The BioFabrication Facility (BFF) tests a technology to print organ-like tissues in microgravity as a step toward manufacturing human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.

- Fluid Shifts measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels in microgravity in an effort to determine how these shifts affect fluid pressure in the head and eye and related effects on vision.

- 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.

- Standard Measures captures an ongoing, optimized set of measures from crew members to characterize how their bodies adapt to living in space. Researchers use these measures to create a data repository for high-level monitoring of the effectiveness of countermeasures and better interpretation of health and performance outcomes.