ISS - Expedition 53 Mission patch.
Sept. 15, 2017
(Highlights: Week of September 4, 2017) - Crew members on the International Space Station continued science investigations as they prepared the orbiting laboratory for three new residents, scheduled for launch to the station on Sept. 12.
Image above: Hurricane Irma as seen from the International Space Station over the Carribbean Sea and Florida. Image Credit: NASA.
Radiation detectors were recovered 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.
Image above: NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik works on the Lung Tissue investigation inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.
Crew members also exchanged 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 out carbon dioxide. The CO2 is processed with filtered hydrogen from the oxygen generator, converting the two waste products into water, a precious commodity in space.
Image above: The Miniature Exercise Device-2 before it is packed up for flight to the International Space Station. The small footprint of this system can help reduce the space needed and the extra weight of large exercise equipment for future long-duration missions. Image Credit: NASA.
After a year, that silica gel loses up to 75 percent of its capacity to absorb water, making it necessary to replace it. 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.
A new programmable exercise unit is being tested on the space station. The Miniature Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) is essentially a small programmable rowing system that can provide scientists and doctors with data on crew performance while also creating a program allowing precise control of the load. It can change resistance levels during any given session.
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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.
The microgravity environment of space weakens muscle and bone, which is why orbiting crew members spend a significant amount of time exercising. The MED-2 is a technology demonstration unit testing small robotic actuators that can provide motion and resistance for crew workout sessions. The size of the unit can help reduce the space needed and the weight of exercise equipment for future long-duration missions. This technology can also be used by patients undergoing physical therapy on Earth. The robotic actuator can be easily adjusted, customizing a rehabilitation program for a patient's individual needs.
Progress was made on other investigations this week, including: Functional Immune, Rodent Research-9, Lighting Effects, Lung Tissue, Fine Motor Skills, STaARS-iFUNGUS, SABL2, Genes in Space-4, Cool Flames Investigation, FIR LMM, and TReK.
Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/898.html
Long Duration Sorbent Testbed (LDST): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/long_duration_sorbent_testbed
Miniature Exercise Device-2 (MED-2): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/862.html
Functional Immune: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2277.html
Rodent Research-9: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2440.html
Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2279.html
Lung Tissue: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2399.html
Fine Motor Skills: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Genes in Space-4: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2524.html
Cool Flames Investigation: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1947.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/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 53 & 54.
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