ISS - Expedition 52 Mission patch.
July 3, 2017
(Highlights: Week of June 26, 2017) - Crew members on the International Space Station are preparing a series of investigations -- including samples taken from their own bodies -- for return to Earth on a SpaceX Dragon capsule.
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer collected breath and blood samples on flight day 60 of his mission on the station for the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) Bone Marrow Adipose Reaction: Red Or White (MARROW) investigation into the effect of microgravity on human bone marrow. Fat cells and blood-producing cells share the same space in bone marrow. During prolonged bed rest on Earth, the fat cells grow at the expense of blood-producing cells. Scientists want to learn if changes in bone marrow fat in space can help explain abnormalities detected in blood cells in microgravity.
Image above: This MiniION hardware is part of the system used to sequence DNA on the International Space Station, which means some samples will not need to be returned to Earth for genetic analysis. Image Credit: NASA.
MARROW measures fat changes in the bone marrow before and after exposure to microgravity. This research is producing the first data on bone marrow fat changes in microgravity. Bone marrow is a vital organ responsible for the production of all red and white blood cells. The investigation also measures specific changes of red and white blood cell functions. Bone marrow fat is measured using magnetic resonance, while red blood cell function is measured with a breath sample analyzed with a gas chromatograph, and white blood cell function is studied through the cells' genetic expression. Data from this study may lead to treatments that would enable safer human space exploration and better recovery from prolonged bed rest on Earth.
In another investigation, NASA is exploring how changes to the space station's lighting may provide a more productive environment for the crew.
Crew members used light meter hardware for the Testing Solid State Lighting Countermeasures to Improve Circadian Adaptation, Sleep, and Performance During High Fidelity Analog and Flight Studies for the International Space Station (Lighting Effects) investigation. This investigation tests a new lighting design using light-emitting diodes to replace the fragile fluorescent lights currently used on the space station. Measurements of various light settings were taken to ensure the LEDs provide enough light to be able to complete science experiments while improving cognitive performance.
Image above: NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducted a test session of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) Halo investigation in the Kibo module. The SPHERES Halo investigation studies the possibility of launching several separate components and then attaching them once they are in space. Image Credit: NASA.
Light-emitting diodes (LED) are adjustable for intensity and color -- the blue, white or yellow sections of the light spectrum. Scientists and doctors want to determine if the new lights can improve crew sleep cycles and alertness during the day. Besides the potential health benefits, these lights also require less energy to run and are lower in mass, making them a prime candidate for use on future spacecraft. Using these same types of lights on Earth, and subtly adjusting their color temperature during the day may help people be more productive, especially those who work a night shift.
The Seedling Growth-3 experiment is third part of a European Space Agency (ESA) series using the plant Arabidopsis thaliana -- a small flowering plant considered a model organism -- to determine the effects of gravity and different light sources on cell growth and proliferation. The proposed research is relevant to understanding plant requirements in space. Arabidopsis thaliana is an excellent model plant for spaceflight experiments because of its small size and simple growth requirements.
Space to Ground: Solar Array Away! : 06/30/2017
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
Improved knowledge of these basic biomechanical processes is vital to use consumable plants in life support systems for long-duration space missions. This project deals with light and gravity sensing, which are both key parameters for the growth and development of plants. Understanding these factors will help develop strategies to optimize light sensing, and, in turn, better modify plant species by using different light sources and other biotechnological approaches to improve crops. This research also could potentially improve agricultural biotechnology on Earth to increase agricultural production.
Other investigations showing progress this week included Biochemical Profile, Repository, Microbial Tracking, TREK, NanoRacks Module 9, 54, and 56, Stem Cells, METEOR, Light Microscopy Module and Rodent Research-5.
Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2279.html
Seedling Growth-3: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1189.html
Biochemical Profile: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1008.html
Microbial Tracking: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1920.html
Stem Cells: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/895.html
Light Microscopy Module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1970.html
Rodent Research-5: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2283.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
Canadian Space Agency (CSA): http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/
European Space Agency (ESA): http://www.esa.int/ESA
Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Kristine Rainey/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 51 & 52.
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