ISS - Expedition 52 Mission patch.
June 28, 2017
(Highlights: Week of June 19, 2017) - Crew members on the International Space Station prepared another investigation using the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES).
A pair of small, bowling-ball-sized satellites were used for test sessions of the SPHERES Halo investigation. Currently, almost all spacecraft are completely assembled and tucked into a rocket fairing for launch into space, which limits the size and weight of objects that can be directly sent to orbit. This investigation studies the possibility of launching several separate components and then attaching them once they are in space.
Image above: The aurora borealis shimmers through the upper atmosphere as the International Space Station traverses the Northern Hemisphere. Image Credit: NASA.
Retired, obsolete, or failed satellites currently cannot be accessed for repair, and wind up as new pieces of space debris. Results from the SPHERES Halo investigation also can address remote or autonomous servicing of spacecraft. In addition, future space habitats, large telescopes or exploration vehicles, which may be too difficult and costly to launch from Earth, may instead be completed in orbit. The SPHERES Halo investigation improves research methods for computer systems that would control space-based repairs and constructions. Computer programs developed through the Halo investigation could be applied to robotics on the ground, including robots that can form a swarm and work together to accomplish a single task.
Another burgeoning technology on the space station was examined when crew members inspected the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) attached to the station. It was another periodic checkup of BEAM, which was deployed May 28, 2016. Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a spacecraft while providing greater volume for living and working in space once expanded. The various sensors and radiation monitors were inspected. Tasks included checking for leaks and taking surface samples to assess the microbe environment inside the expandable node.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson changes out the imaging unit on the Bone Densitometer aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.
BEAM, the first test of an expandable module, allows investigators to gauge how well the habitat performs -- specifically, how well it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space. Crew members will continue to inspect the module every three months to check for stability. Durable, reliable and safe expandable structures have applications on Earth as well. Expandable modules can be used as pop-up habitats in disaster areas or remote locations; storm surge protection devices; pipeline or subway system plugs to prevent flooding; fluid storage containers; or hyperbaric chambers for pressurized oxygen delivery.
Crew members also became the focus of the Microbial Payload Tracking Series (Microbial Observatory) by collecting human saliva for study. Along with the crew members, the station is home to a variety of microbes, which can potentially impact crew health and equipment. This second round of the Microbial Observatory investigation monitors the types of microbes present on the station over a one-year period. Samples returned to Earth for study will enable scientists to understand the diversity of microbes in orbit and how they can change over time.
Image above: he Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) is a new type of solar panel that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs. The ROSA investigation tests deployment and retraction, shape changes when the Earth blocks the sun, and other physical challenges to determine the array’s strength and durability. ROSA was deployed from the International Space Station this week. Image Credit: NASA.
Techniques developed to detect these microbes on the station can be used to identify the organisms in hospitals, laboratories and other environments on Earth. Results could also provide insight into the microbes' metabolic pathways, which may lead to new drugs and antibacterial products to combat microbes.
Other investigations showing progress this week included Bone Densitometer, NanoRacks Module 9, 48, 52 and 70, Stem Cells, Seedling Growth, Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), Fine Motor Skills, Sprint, METEOR, Long Duration Sorbent Testbed, Vascular Echo, TangoLab, and Rodent Research-5.
Space to Ground: Roll 'Em: 06/23/2017
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.
SPHERES Halo: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1759.html
Microbial Observatory: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1794.html
Stem Cells: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/895.html
Seedling Growth: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1189.html
Combustion Integration Rack (CIR): https://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/sopo/ihho/psrp/fcf/cir/
Fine Motor Skills: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Long Duration Sorbent Testbed: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2144.html
Vascular Echo: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1921.html
Rodent Research-5: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2283.html
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1804.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/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 51 & 52.
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