jeudi 1 décembre 2016

Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist, week of Nov. 21, 2016

ISS - Expedition 50 Mission patch.

Dec. 1, 2016

(Highlights: Week of Nov. 21, 2016) - With the recent arrival of Peggy Whitson of NASA, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesque of ESA – doubling the number of crew members -- new science ramped up on the the International Space Station, including a new study that may help predict volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough set-up equipment for the Simulation of Geophysical Fluid Flow under Microgravity-2 (Geoflow-2) investigation, studying heat and fluid flow currents within Earth’s mantle. It consists of a special device that examines the flow of a fluid between two rotating spheres where the smaller sphere sits inside the larger one. This experimental design will help show how fluids flow in a configuration similar to the one found in the liquid nuclei of planets. Understanding the fluid flow in this experiment could not only enhance computer models in predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but also could be useful in a variety of engineering applications, such as improving spherical gyroscopes and bearings, and centrifugal pumps.

Image above: One of four devices placed around the Columbus module on the International Space Station in support of the MATISS investigation. The study examines advanced materials that could stop bacteria from settling and growing on the station’s interior surfaces, effectively making them easier to clean and more hygienic for crew members. Image Credit: NASA.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and new space station crew member Thomas Pesquet worked on a pair of investigations searching for bacteria in the air and water on the orbiting laboratory.

Pesquet took water from the station’s potable water dispenser, added it to a new cotton-based petri dish and left it alone for a few days before testing it for microbial contamination using the new Aquapad. The water astronauts drink on the station is recycled by up to 80 percent from their sweat, urine, and other reclaimed wastewater sources. Recycling water reduces the number of supply missions needed to run the station, and building a self-sufficient spacecraft is necessary for future missions traveling farther from our planet. Using a device that consists of a simple absorbent cotton -- injected with 1 milliliter of water -- and a tablet computer application, ESA’s Aquapad aims to improve the speed and efficiency of water tests in orbit. This quick and simple analysis of water could also help test drinking water on Earth in countries where access to safe water to drink is a constant problem. Aquapad could also be used to diagnose the state of the water after natural disasters.

Image above: A series of innovative petri dishes will help space station crew members test and analyze the recycled water on the space station for microbial contamination. This new process may be used on Earth to quickly assess water in remote areas where clean drinking water is difficult to find. Image Credit: NASA.

Pesquet also deployed four MATISS experimental cassettes, testing for bacteria build-up in the constantly recycled atmosphere on the space station. The MATISS experiment investigates the antibacterial properties of materials in space to see if future spacecraft could be made easier to clean. Scientists will monitor how bacteria form biofilms that protect them from cleaning agents and help them adhere to surfaces in microgravity and on Earth. The first objective is to simplify decontamination operations to save crew time. The second relates to space exploration -- validating innovative materials to build future spacecraft, especially important for longer missions farther from Earth.

Image above: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet accesses the Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) to store blood samples for the Marrow investigation. Image Credit: NASA.

The MATISS experiment consists of four identical plaques that Pesquet placed in ESA’s Columbus laboratory on the station. The plaques will be exposed to the elements for at least three months. Five advanced materials that could stop bacteria from settling and growing on the surface were selected. A sixth element, made of glass, is used as control material. The smart materials should stop bacteria from sticking to the surface and growing, effectively making them easier to clean and more hygienic. The units are open on the sides to let air flow naturally through and collect any bacteria floating past.

Welcome Aboard! New Arrivals Make Six Expedition 50 Crew Members

Video above: The International Space Station welcomed three additional crew members on Nov. 19. Video Credit: NASA-TV.

Crew members conducted human research investigations this week, including Biochem Profile, ESA-Active-Dosimeters, Fine Motor Skills, Fluid Shifts, Marrow, Dose Tracker and Space Headaches.

Progress* also was made on other investigations and facilities this week, including Veg-03, Meteor, ISS Ham, Story Time From Space, ACE-T-1, DOSIS-3D, MSL Batch 2b, EVERYWEAR, Water Monitoring Suite, CBEF, CIR/MDCA, and the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System.

Related article:

*Anomaly During Third Stage Operation in Russian Cargo Craft

Related links:

Microgravity-2 (Geoflow-2) investigation:


MATISS experimental cassettes:

Biochem Profile:


Fine Motor Skills:

Fluid Shifts:


Dose Tracker:

Space Headaches:



ISS Ham:

Story Time From Space:



MSL Batch 2b:


Water Monitoring Suite:



Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System:

ESA (European Space Agency):

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/John Love, Acting Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 49 & 50.

Best regards,

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