ISS - Expedition 50 Mission patch.
March 9, 2017
(Highlights: Week of Feb. 27, 2017) - Crew members on the International Space Station began activation of more than a dozen science investigations, including one that will examine lightning strikes on Earth from space.
The Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) is part of a suite of investigations on the Space Test Program-H5 delivered to the station by the 10th SpaceX resupply mission to the space station. This space-based lightning detector can locate lightning over a large area of the planet, providing real-time data and capturing images in higher latitudes than previously studied. The LIS measures the amount, rate and energy of lightning strikes. Lightning can help scientists study climate change because the storms that produce lightning are sensitive to small changes in temperature and atmospheric conditions. Improved understanding of lightning and its connections to weather provides crucial insight for weather forecasting, hurricane intensity, atmospheric chemistry and physics as well as aircraft and spacecraft safety, especially over oceans.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson works in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station, preparing microscope observations for the Microgravity Expanded Stem Cells investigation which cultivates human stem cells on the station for potential use in treating disease. Image Credit: NASA.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough changed the filter on the Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST) which scientists are using to create a more efficient life support system for long-duration, crewed space missions. A silica gel is currently used on the space station to remove humidity or water from the air, which allows life support hardware to more efficiently filter carbon dioxide from the air, making it breathable. These filters on the station need water removed from the air so carbon dioxide can be more easily processed along with waste hydrogen from the oxygen generator, converting two waste products into water, a precious commodity in space.
After a year, that silica gel loses up to 75 percent of its capacity to absorb water, making it necessary to replace it frequently. This investigation is studying 12 potential replacements for the gel to determine which would be most effective for use on long-duration missions. Data from the study will help determine the best material to use to build better filters, which would reduce the number of replacements sent on deep-space missions, leaving more cargo space available for other payloads. Ground crews will conduct a similar experiment in a laboratory on Earth using the same materials for comparison.
Image above: Scientists are using the Long Duration Sorbent Testbed on the International Space Station to investigate new methods to improve the life support systems on spacecraft for long-duration space missions. Image Credit: NASA.
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet started a multi-day investigation for the Astronaut's Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight (Energy) study. He logged his dietary intake while wearing an armband that monitored his activities. Data from the ESA investigation will help mission planners send the correct amount of the right types of food with travelers into deep space. Pesquet is one of nine astronauts to be examined during exercise and rest cycles three months before launch, three months after arriving at the space station and adapting to the environment, and after returning to Earth.
Physicians are measuring metabolic rates, urine content and bone density to determine energy needs. Knowing details of astronaut metabolism and activity, combined with other conditions, will help ensure that crews are properly nourished on long missions. On Earth, extended bed rest due to age or illness has some parallels to a proper energy balance. Improved understanding from space missions will help in assessing patient needs on Earth.
Image above: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet performs some of the measurement operations for the ENERGY investigation, which looks at astronaut metabolic rates, urine content and bone density to determine energy needs. Image Credit: NASA.
Other human research investigations conducted this week include Biochemical Profile, Fluid Shifts, Fine Motor Skills, Habitability, Space Headaches, and Dose Tracker.
Progress was made on other investigations, outreach activities, and facilities this week, including APEX-4, Microgravity Expanded Stem Cells, Rodent Research-4, ISS Ham Radio, Group Combustion, and NanoRacks Module-40.
Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2011.html
Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/long_duration_sorbent_testbed
Astronaut's Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight (Energy): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/397.html
Biochemical Profile: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1008.html
Fluid Shifts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1257.html
Fine Motor Skills: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Space Headaches: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/181.html
Dose Tracker: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1933.html
Microgravity Expanded Stem Cells: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1971.html
Rodent Research-4: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2025.html
ISS Ham Radio: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/346.html
Group Combustion: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1077.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/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 49 & 50.
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