ISS - Expedition 50 Mission patch.
Jan. 24, 2017
International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA
(Highlights: Week of Jan. 9, 2017) - The crew of the International Space Station completed a ground-breaking investigation into DNA research that could help save time and lives.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson coordinated the final run of the station’s Biomolecule Sequencer, a device that could allow crew members to sequence DNA for various experiments in space. DNA sequencing is typically difficult and time-consuming and requires bulky and expensive equipment. This investigation tests a miniature sequencer in space to diagnose infectious diseases, identify microbes, and better understand the genetic changes experienced by astronauts while in space. This investigation seeks to be the first to map DNA in orbit.
Image above: The Dextre robot can be seen at the end of Candarm2, with the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 4 platform in the background. Image Credit: NASA.
If the device proves successful, organisms with a short life-span would not need to be frozen and returned to a lab on Earth for analysis. Those samples could be examined on the station immediately after being collected, transmitting the data back to the ground, saving valuable research time. The real-time collection of genomic data would greatly improve scientific research in orbit. The small size of the Biomolecule Sequencer, approximately the size of a deck of playing cards, could also help doctors save lives in remote countries with minimal resources.
Whitson deployed eight new radiation detectors around the interior of the station in support of the Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2) investigation. The Canadian Space Agency's bubble spectrometers, placed in predetermined locations throughout the station, measure neutron radiation levels while ignoring all other radiation. This investigation characterizes the station neutron environment, defining the risk posed to crew members’ health, and provides 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.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson sequences DNA using the Biomolecule Sequencer on the International Space Station. The small device could help scientists save time by collecting important data on organisms while in orbit instead of waiting to send the sample to a lab on the ground. The sequencer could also help detect microbes or infectious diseases in remote areas on Earth. Image Credit: NASA.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough completed another round of the Space Headaches study. Headaches are a common complaint during spaceflight and can influence crew performance during a mission. The ESA (European Space Agency) investigation searches for ways to improve the condition and help develop methods to alleviate symptoms and improve the health and safety of crew members. Data from the investigation could provide insight to the condition on Earth and help millions who suffer from headaches.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson deployed radiation detectors around the space station as part of the Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2) investigation. Image Credit: NASA.
Crew members conducted other human research investigations this week, including Biochemical Profile, Cardio Ox, Repository, Fine Motor Skills, Habitability, Lighting Effects, Multi-Omics, and Dose Tracker.
Progress was made on other investigations, outreach activities, and facilities this week, including Education Payload Operations-Pesquet, ISS Ham Radio, Story Time from Space, Group Combustion, Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE), Microgravity Science Glovebox, and the Manufacturing Device.
Biomolecule Sequencer: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2181.html
Tests a miniature sequencer in space: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/dna_sequencing
Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/898.html
Space Headaches study: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/infographic_space_headache
Biochemical Profile: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1008.html
Cardio Ox: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/931.html
Fine Motor Skills: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2279.html
Dose Tracker: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1933.html
ISS Ham Radio: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/346.html
Story Time from Space: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1287.html
Group Combustion: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1077.html
Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1111.html
Microgravity Science Glovebox: https://msglovebox.msfc.nasa.gov/
Manufacturing Device: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2198.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), Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 49 & 50.
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