mercredi 14 décembre 2016

Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist, week of Dec. 5, 2016

ISS - Expedition 50 Mission patch.

Dec. 14, 2016

(Highlights: Week of Dec. 5, 2016) - Investigations this week on the International Space Station centered on technology demonstrations of wearable health monitors designed for long-duration space travel that might also be used on Earth.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough calibrated and charged the Personal CO2 Monitors in preparation for distributing them to crew members to test their viability as wearable safety devices. 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 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.

Image above: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured this image while flying over South America on the International Space Station. He shared it to his Twitter social media account, calling it “a dragon-shaped river.” Image Credits: NASA/@Thom_astro.

Many industries on Earth require workers to enter enclosed spaces – such as mines, submarines, or construction tunnels and pipes -- where environmental monitoring is critical to safety. This technology could prove useful in these industries. 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, durable device that can be comfortably attached to clothing, making it well suited for continuous wear.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet configured a biometric patch to wear on his arm and a Smartshirt to wear during an exercise period as part of the EVERYWEAR investigation. These items are data collection points that are downloaded onto a computer tablet for scientific and medical study. The ESA study will test this emerging technology for nutritional assessment, sleep quality evaluation and constant blood pressure measurement through the day’s activities. Part of the investigation is a new, easy-to-use application on an iPad, simplifying the procedure for astronauts and saving valuable time to perform other tasks in orbit. The data is automatically recorded to the iPad and downloaded to scientists for the project in Toulouse, France.

Image above: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough works on the Capillary Flow Experiment – 2, which demonstrates how capillary forces work in space. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installed a camera system to record science operations for the Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE), an investigation that may help build better space vehicles. The experiment studies the behavior of gases and liquids as they simultaneously flow through the same column filled with fixed porous media. This is important for the study of many chemical and biological processing systems, as well as numerous geophysical applications.

Water-recovery systems, fuel cells and other equipment on the station use packed bed reactors, but none are designed to handle both liquid and gas at the same time. Scientists are working to understand how a packed bed two-phase flow would work in microgravity. The results of the experiment could help scientists design more efficient and lightweight thermal management and life support systems that use less energy, benefiting not only the space station, but future Mars missions as well.

Whitson joined Pesquet for their flight day 15 human research activities, which included collecting blood pressure and ultrasound measurements for the Biochemical Profile (Biochem Profile) and Cardio Ox investigations. The astronauts spend time in orbit studying themselves to learn how the human body reacts to long-duration spaceflight. Biochem Profile tests bodily fluid samples obtained from astronauts before, during and after spaceflight. Cardio Ox looks for signs of oxidative and inflammatory stress on cardiovascular health during and after spaceflight.

Image above: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet uses a tonometer to record how his arteries react to weightlessness. The tonometer is connected to an iPad that is running the EveryWear app, which offers one interface for a variety of health-related tasks. Image Credit: NASA.

Specific proteins and chemicals in the samples are used as biomarkers, or indicators of health. Post-flight analysis yields a database of samples and test results, which scientists can use to study the effects of spaceflight on the body. Establishing a chemical profile of the body’s response to spaceflight will help scientists understand how different systems in the body interact in microgravity in different groups of people. Scientists can also test the effectiveness of possible countermeasures like exercise and nutrition and their effects on crew health during long-duration exploration missions.

An improved understanding of the biochemical effects of microgravity could help patients with limited mobility on Earth, such as those on bed rest. Understanding how various physiological systems respond and interact to changing gravity conditions could help physicians design different treatments or exercises for people with limited mobility.

Crew members conducted other human research investigations this week, including At Home in Space, Repository, Habitability, ESA-Active-Dosimeters, Fine Motor Skills, Fluid Shifts, Vascular Echo, Dose Tracker and Space Headaches.

Progress also was made on other investigations and facilities this week, including Veg-03, Meteor, AstroPi, ISS Ham, Story Time From Space, ACE-T-1, CFE-2, EML Batch 1.2c, Group Combustion, JAXA ELF, Aerosol Samplers, ISS External Leak Locator, J-SSOD, Radi-N2, and CIR.

Related links:

Personal CO2 Monitors:

EVERYWEAR investigation:

Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE):

Biochem Profile:

At Home in Space:




Fine Motor Skills:

Fluid Shifts:

Vascular Echo:

Dose Tracker:

Space Headaches:



ISS Ham:

Story Time From Space:



Group Combustion:


Aerosol Samplers:

ISS External Leak Locator:



Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

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

Best regards,

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