ISS - Expedition 53 Mission patch.
Sept. 20, 2017
(Highlights: Week of September 11, 2017) - NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin launched to the International Space Station on Sept. 12, where they joined Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) to continue scientific research aboard the orbiting laboratory.
As Hurricane Irma lashed the state of Florida, an investigation in orbit took data points that could improve weather prediction models and help emergency responders and coastal residents better prepare for future storms. The Cyclone Intensity Measurements from the International Space Station (Tropical Cyclone) investigation captures images and data of major storms approaching landfall. The investigation uses a specialized, automated camera and other instruments to acquire data about the storms through one of the portals on the space station.
Image above: Crew members captured this image of the aurora borealis and a lightning storm as the International Space Station flew over Canada. Image Credit: NASA.
Scientists are demonstrating new techniques for accurate real-time measurement of the intensities of strong tropical cyclones by using passive instrumentation from low-Earth orbit. This method requires measurements of the temperature of the top of the eye wall clouds of the storm and the height of these clouds above sea level. Combined with information on sea-level surface temperatures and air pressure, scientists can more accurately predict the wind speed, strength and intensities of cyclones prior to landfall. This information could assist emergency responders and coastal residents to better prepare for oncoming storms.
Nespoli continued a week-long run of the Magnetic Flux Experiment (MAGVECTOR) investigation. This ESA study looks in to how Earth's magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor through extremely sensitive magnetic sensors placed around and above a 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 magnetic sensors placed near 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: The Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new crew members approaches the International Space Station on Sept. 12. Image Credit: NASA.
Scientists are also testing other methods to keep the computer systems on the space station functional, especially during high radiation events. Some of the computers on the orbiting laboratory are commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems that any consumer can purchase. During the High-Performance COTS Computer System on the ISS (Spaceborne Computer) investigation, scientists want to test if using software to lower the power and, by extension, the speed of the computers can protect the systems without expensive, time-consuming or bulky protective shielding.
Radiation is likely to have unanticipated effects on complex computer systems. Radiation-resistant computers can improve the reliability of these systems in space. This investigation can help identify critical failure points and potential software patches to prevent them. Radiation events like solar flares can also pose risks to computing resources on Earth, such as mobile phone towers and traffic monitoring systems. This research could identify solutions to minimize radiation risk for these systems as well.
A collection of life-sciences investigations were prepared to return on the Dragon spacecraft Sept. 17. Among them was the Cardiac Myocytes investigation, using microgravity to examine how stem cells develop into specific cells – heart cells in this case. This study will help us learn how stem cells develop and demonstrate ways to use space as a production facility for medical and regenerative therapies. It could also help reduce the risk of heart failure and other diseases.
Image above: The signal received from a black hole-companion star celestial event as captured by the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer investigation on the space station. The cycle of rays received by NICER as the black hole consumes the star resembles a heartbeat from an electrocardiogram. Image Credit: NASA.
Another investigation is returning live cultures from the station that will help an investigation into 3D bioprinted cardiac and vascular cells. The Maturation Study of Biofabricated Myocyte Construct looks in to the results of developing these cells in microgravity, much like they may grow when the cells are first forming. Scientists believe bioprinted cells will grow and organize more efficiently in space compared to identical cells grown on the ground. The eventual goal is to use tissue from a patient to bioprint complex structures in space, establishing a system to print patient specific tissues and organs in space for transplant back on Earth.
The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) investigation on the space station observed a compelling celestial event. The study captured X-Ray readings of a companion star in the final stages of descending toward a black hole. The black hole is approximately 10 times larger than our sun. The cycle of X-Ray brightness and dimming as the black hole devours the sun resembles a heart-beat on an electrocardiogram. Further study of this particular pairing will help provide more data on the physics of our universe, including identifying neutron stars and using them to help create accurate navigation systems for spacecraft – like a celestial GPS.
Space to Ground: Full Strength: 09/15/2017
Video above: NASA's Space to Ground is a weekly update on what is happening on the International Space Station. Social media users can post with #spacetoground to ask questions or make a comment. Video Credit: NASA.
Progress was made on other investigations this week, including: Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST), Lighting Effects, Lung Tissue, FIR LMM, Fine Motor Skills, ADSEP, Rodent Research-9, ISS Ham, Cool Flames, Advanced Research Thermal Passive Exchange (ARTE), Tangolab, and SABL2.
Tropical Cyclone: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1973.html
Magnetic Flux Experiment (MAGVECTOR): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1176.html
Spaceborne Computer: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2304.html
Cardiac Myocytes: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2404.html
Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1966.html
Combustion Integration Rack (CIR): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/326.html
Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/long_duration_sorbent_testbed
Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2279.html
Lung Tissue: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2399.html
Fine Motor Skills: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Rodent Research-9: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2440.html
ISS Ham: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/346.html
Cool Flames: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1947.html
Advanced Research Thermal Passive Exchange (ARTE): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1911.html
Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html
International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 53 & 54.
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