ISS - Expedition 45 Mission patch.
Oct. 6, 2015
Even though he won't return to Earth until the spring, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly prepared for the winter season in orbit by getting a flu shot this week on the International Space Station.
Kelly self-administered an influenza vaccine as part of NASA’s Twins Study, a compilation of multiple investigations that take advantage of a unique opportunity to study identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, while Scott spends a year in space on the orbiting laboratory and Mark remains on Earth. Mark was injected with the same vaccine. Blood was drawn before and after the injections to compare how their systems respond to the inoculation.
Image above: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly gives himself a flu shot for an ongoing study on the human immune system. The vaccination is part of NASA's Twins Study, a compilation of multiple investigations that take advantage of a unique opportunity to study identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, while Scott spends a year aboard the International Space Station and Mark remains on Earth. Image Credit: NASA.
Understanding exactly which parts of the immune system are altered during spaceflight will help scientists know how to ensure that crew members maintain a healthy immune system during long flights, and stay protected against infections from Earth when visitors arrive at the space station. The data also could be used to help develop new treatments and preventative measures for immune dysfunction and related health issues on Earth. A better understanding of how the immune system is activated or suppressed may help in treating a range of auto-immune diseases such as arthritis and diabetes, and in treating the natural decline of the immune system as people age.
Kelly concluded the latest run of the RaDI-N2 Neutron Field Study (RaDI-N2) investigation by recovering eight detectors in predetermined locations throughout the space station and turning them over to the Russian crew to stow for a return flight later in the year. The Canadian Space Agency's bubble spectrometers measure neutron radiation levels while ignoring all other radiation. This investigation will better characterize the station neutron environment, define the risk posed to crew members’ health and provide the data necessary to develop advanced protective measures for future spaceflight. Because neutrons carry no electrical charge, they have greater potential to penetrate the body and damage tissue. RaDI-N2 will help doctors better understand the connections between neutron radiation, DNA damage and mutation rates and can be applied to other radiation health issues on Earth.
International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren adjusted the video feed and prepared the power supply for the ESA (European Space Agency) Magnetic Flux Experiment (MAGVECTOR) investigation. A ground team officially powered on the unit for its fifth science run. The MAGVECTOR investigation studies the interaction between a moving magnetic field and an electrical conductor.
Earth's magnetic field is constantly flowing around us. Aside from protecting us from solar winds, it also makes a compass work and birds find their destination when migrating. This same force can interact and interfere with equipment and experiments on the space station. Using extremely sensitive magnetic sensors placed around and above an electrical conductor, MAGVECTOR will help scientists gain insight into how the field influences conductors. The results will help protect future station experiments and electric equipment, and could offer insights into how magnetic fields influence electrical conductors -- the backbone of current technology.
Image above: JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui (left) and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren work on removing items from a storage rack located inside the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory. The pair are making room for new communications hardware that will be used for future visiting vehicles arriving at the space station, including the new U.S. commercial crew vehicles currently in development. Image Credit: NASA.
Lindgren and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Kimiya Yui completed their flight day 60 Ocular Health exams. Altered vision is one of the numerous risks posed to crews living in space. Crew members' bodies change in a variety of ways during spaceflight, and some experience impaired vision. The Ocular Health investigation gathers data on crew members' visual health during and after long-duration space station missions. Ultrasound scans and tests monitor microgravity-induced visual impairment, as well as changes believed to arise from elevated intracranial pressure, to characterize how living in microgravity can affect the visual, vascular and central nervous systems. The investigation also measures how long it takes for crew members to return to normal after they return to Earth.
How the Human Body’s Immune System Responds in Microgravity
Video above: Many factors alter the human body’s immune system during spaceflight. This video explains what those factors are and how scientists are working to understand exactly what parts of the immune system are altered. Video Credit: NASA.
Ocular Health provides insight into structural changes that can occur in the eyes and nervous system, which could be relevant for patients on Earth suffering from a wide range of ocular diseases, such as glaucoma. It also provides data that could be used to help patients suffering from brain diseases, such as hydrocephalus and high blood pressure in the brain.
Other human research investigations continued this week, including Biochemical Profile, Cardio Ox, Cognition, Interactions, Journals, Microbiome, Space Headaches, and Sprint (links bellow).
NASA’s Twins Study: https://www.nasa.gov/twins-study
RaDI-N2 Neutron Field Study (RaDI-N2): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/898.html
Magnetic Flux Experiment (MAGVECTOR): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1176.html
Ocular Health exams: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/204.html
Biochemical Profile: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1008.html
Cardio Ox: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/931.html
Space Headaches: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/181.html
International Space Station (ISS), the space laboratory: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html
Canadian Space Agency (ASC-CSA): http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/
European Space Agency (ESA): http://www.esa.int/ESA
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA): http://global.jaxa.jp/
For more information about the current crew and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.
Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist/Expeditions 45 & 46/Kristine Rainey.