ISS - Expedition 51 Mission patch.
May 1, 2017
(Highlights: Week of April 24, 2017) - A week of science on the International Space Station started with a historic moment as NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson set a new American record for cumulative days in space, passing fellow astronaut Jeff Williams. She then continued work on an investigation into cosmic radiation on the orbiting laboratory.
Image above: NASA astronauts Peggy Wilson, in blue, Jack Fischer move a new payload on to the NanoRacks External Platform to prepare for deployment via an airlock in the Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.
Whitson recovered radiation detectors from 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 could 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.
Another investigation may help scientists find ways to safeguard crew health by understanding how long-duration spaceflight alters astronaut DNA or weakens the immune system. Studies show that, over time, over time, telomeres -- the protective caps on chromosomes -- shorten as a person ages. This could also be a concern in space as returning astronauts can occasionally exhibit the same symptoms as an elderly person. Genes in Space-2 tests ways to amplify DNA and make it possible to measure and monitor telomere changes in space.
Image above: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams speaks to Peggy Whitson to congratulate her on breaking his previous record for the most cumulative days in space. Image Credit: NASA.
The ability to collect this data could lead to better ways to monitor astronaut health and improve the technology for genetic diagnostic tools on deep-space missions. The Genes in Space program invites middle and high school students and teachers to design DNA-related experiments to fly on the space station. This provides students with a direct connection to the space program and hands-on educational experiences, promoting an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Results from this investigation could also direct future research into telomere dynamics during spaceflight, which furthers our understanding of fundamental connections between telomere dynamics and disease on Earth.
The ground team for NASA's Space Communications and Navigations (SCaN) Testbed continued another round of tests this week on the space station. SCaN is a flexible radio system -- designed at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland -- that conforms to common, non-proprietary standards so agency flight controllers can change the software and how the equipment is used during flight. It would allow spacecraft crews and ground teams to recover from unpredicted errors or changes in the system.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson – alongside fellow astronaut Jack Fischer -- receives a personal call from President Donald Trump to congratulate her on breaking the American record for cumulative days in space. Image Credit: NASA.
Changing a radio's software after launch would give mission operators on the ground the ability to enhance communication systems for increased data flow and possibly resolve system problems. Using the same hardware platform for various missions and only changing the software to meet specific mission needs would reduce cost and risk. Radio technology designed for use in space could be used on Earth to develop technologically advanced communications products.
Space to Ground: American Recordholder: 04/28/2017
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.
Human research investigations conducted this week include MARROW, Fine Motor Skills, Fluid Shifts, Habitability, and Dose Tracker.
Progress was made on other investigations, outreach activities, and facilities this week, including Advanced Colloids Experiment, ISS Ham, NanoRacks External Platform, Zero Boil-Off Tank (ZBOT), Veg-03, Polar, Device for the study of Critical Liquids and Crystallization (DECLIC HTI-R), and METEOR.
Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/898.html
Genes in Space-2: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2437.html
Genes in Space: https://www.genesinspace.org/
Space Communications and Navigations (SCaN): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/162.html
Fine Motor Skills: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Fluid Shifts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1257.html
Dose Tracker: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1933.html
ISS Ham: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/346.html
NanoRacks External Platform: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1197.html
Zero Boil-Off Tank (ZBOT): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1270.html
Device for the study of Critical Liquids and Crystallization (DECLIC HTI-R): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1030.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
NASA's Glenn Research Center: http://www.nasa.gov/glenn
Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 51 & 52.
Best regards, Orbiter.ch