lundi 3 octobre 2016

Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist, week of Sept. 19, 2016

ISS - Expedition 49 Mission patch.

Oct. 3, 2016

(Highlights: Week of Sept. 19, 2016) - NASA astronaut Kate Rubins checked for microbes in the water supply on the International Space Station to test a new monitoring system.

Rubins configured the hardware for the Microbial Monitoring System as part of the Water Monitoring Suite experiment. This new technology can quickly detect and identify potentially harmful microorganisms in the station's water supply. If successful, it will ensure that crew members can perform real time tests and monitor the safety of their water on future missions.

An additional benefit with this technology is the speed at which it can analyze the samples. Using current technology, it can take a week to search for harmful bacteria. With the new Microbial Monitoring System, it could take less than an hour. This would be invaluable to travelers in space where water is a very limited and precious commodity, and would also help millions of people on Earth without access to clean water. Equipment that is fast and simple to use can improve water quality monitoring in remote areas.

Image above: Crew members on the International Space Station captured this astounding image of the Aurora Borealis during a recent orbit. This natural phenomenon is the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere and is usually only visible in the polar regions. Image Credit: NASA.

Rubins worked on another water-based investigation this week, this time to help make better pharmaceuticals. In chemistry, wetting refers to spreading of a liquid over a solid material’s surface, and is a key aspect of the material’s ability to dissolve. The Hard to Wet Surfaces (Eli Lilly-Hard to Wet Surfaces) investigation studies how certain materials used in the pharmaceutical industry dissolve in water while in microgravity.

Rubins set up six sample vials and injected a different solution in each. She also set up a camera and took a set of base photographs before setting it for automatic photography to watch how the solutions dissolved. Results from this investigation could help improve the design of tablets that dissolve in the body to deliver drugs, thereby improving drug design for medicines used in space and on Earth.

This investigation is also a great example of companies working with the Center for the Advancement of Science In Space (CASIS) to take advantage of the U.S. National Lab in orbit.

Image above: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins helps mix six sample vials for the Hard to Wet Surfaces investigation to study how materials dissolve in liquid. The study is conducted in the microgravity of the International Space Station to get a more uniform distribution of the material in the liquid. Data from the study will help scientists create better pharmaceuticals for use in space and on Earth. Image Credit: NASA.

Rubins configured four Personal CO2 Monitors before wearing them for several hours to test their viability as a safety device. Humans produce carbon dioxide through the natural breathing process, but too much CO2 in the air can cause headaches, dizziness, increased blood pressure and more severe symptoms. All human spacecraft must be designed with environmental control systems that remove this gas from the air supply. But the space environment can still lead to pockets of CO2 that are difficult to detect and remove. Much like the proverbial canary in a coalmine, the Personal CO2 Monitor demonstrates a new capability of wearable technology to continuously monitor astronauts' immediate surroundings on the space station.

Many industries on Earth require workers to enter enclosed spaces – such as mines, construction tunnels and pipes, or on submarines -- where environmental monitoring is critical to safety. This technology could prove to be useful. With the addition of an alarm system, the Personal CO2 Monitor could serve as a warning device for hazardous conditions. The focus of the technology is to create a small and durable device that can be comfortably attached to clothing, making the it well-suited for continuous wear.

Image above: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins performed the second harvest of the Plant RNA Regulation experiment. The Plant RNA Regulation investigation studies the first steps of gene expression involved in development of roots and shoots. Scientists expect to find new molecules that play a role in how plants adapt and respond to the microgravity environment of space, which provides new insight into growing plants for food and oxygen supplies on long-duration missions. Image Credit: NASA.

Progress was made on other investigations and facilities this week, including Plant RNA Regulation, Meteor, Story Time From Space, MAGVECTOR, MSL Batch 2b, NanoRack CubeSat Deployer, Cell Biology Experiment Facility, Electromagnetic Levatator, Multipurpose Small Payload Rack, Manufacturing Device, ELF.

Other human research investigations conducted this week include Body Measures, Dose Tracker, Fine Motor Skills, Habitability, Multi-Omics, and Space Headaches.

Related links:

Water Monitoring Suite experiment:

Eli Lilly-Hard to Wet Surfaces investigation:

Center for the Advancement of Science In Space (CASIS):

Personal CO2 Monitors:

Plant RNA Regulation:


Story Time From Space:


MSL Batch 2b:

NanoRack CubeSat Deployer:

Cell Biology Experiment Facility:

Electromagnetic Levatator:

Multipurpose Small Payload Rack:

Manufacturing Device:


Dose Tracker:

Fine Motor Skills:



Space Headaches:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 49 & 50/Kristine Rainey.

Best regards,

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