ISS - Expedition 53 Mission patch.
Sept. 29, 2017
(Highlights: Week of September 25, 2017) - It's planting season on the International Space Station as crew members installed hardware to grow another crop of vegetables in space while another investigation discovered a new black hole in deep space.
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba prepared the Veggie facility for three different kinds of lettuce seeds as part of the VEG-03-D investigation. This is the first time seeds from multiple kinds of plants are being grown in the facility all at the same time. Understanding how plants respond to microgravity is an important step for future long-duration space missions, which will require crew members to grow their own food. Crew members on the station have previously grown lettuce and flowers in the facility. This new series of the study expands on previous validation tests.
Image above: NASA astronaut Joe Acaba checks on the Veggie hardware for another round of the VEG-03 investigation. This fall, crew members on the International Space Station will grow three different types of lettuce in orbit, testing methods for growing fresh food in space for use on the station and on long-duration space missions. Image Credit: NASA.
Veggie provides lighting and necessary nutrients for plants in the form of a low-cost growth chamber and planting pillows, which deliver nutrients to the root system. The Veggie pillow concept is a low-maintenance, modular system that requires no additional energy beyond a special light to help the plants grow. It supports a variety of plant species that can be cultivated for fresh food, and even for education experiments.
Crew members have commented that they enjoy space gardening, and investigators believe growing plants could provide a psychological benefit to crew members on long-duration missions, just as gardening is often an enjoyable hobby for people on Earth. Data from this investigation could benefit agricultural practices on Earth by designing systems that use valuable resources such as water more efficiently.
Image above: ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli captured this image of Greece during a recent orbit of the International Space Station, posting it to his Twitter account with the caption "It's like browsing years and years of history laid out below us!" Image Credits: @astro_paolo.
A set of highly sensitive X-ray detectors and cameras discovered a new black hole, and scientists decided to name the celestial object after the investigation. The Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) investigation is performing a complete sky survey while helping address fundamental astrophysics questions and understand the current state and evolution of our universe. MAXI and the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) investigation observed MAXI J1535-571 to develop a more physical picture of the galactic event. MAXI – a JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) study -- has also reported binary pulsar outbursts, a hypernova more than 3 million years old observed, for the first time, a massive black hole as it swallowed a star.
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli completed another session of the Circadian Rhythms investigation. Circadian rhythm is the phenomenon of one's "body clock" indicating when it is time to sleep or wake. Astronauts in orbit around Earth are subjected to more than a dozen sunrises every day. Researchers believe this non-24-hour cycle of light and dark affects crewmembers’ circadian rhythm. This ESA investigation looks at the role of circadian rhythms and how they change during long-duration spaceflight, addressing the effects of reduced physical activity, microgravity and an artificially controlled environment.
Space to Ground: Triple Spacewalks: 09/29/2017
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.
Changes in body composition and body temperature, which also occur in microgravity, can affect crew members’ circadian rhythms as well. Understanding how these phenomena affect the biological clock will improve performance and health for future crew members and provide a unique comparison for sleep disorders, autonomic nervous system disorders and shift work-related disorders on Earth.
Crew members are installing and running the Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME) through its paces – checking hardware and software -- before starting full operations in the coming weeks. This project is a set of six independent studies of gaseous flames to be conducted in the Combustion Integration Rack (CIR). Scientists want to improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollutant production in combustion on Earth while prevent fires on spacecraft through research on materials flammability. The data from these investigations could help improve engine design to improve performance and achieve low emissions of soot and carbon, perhaps even using electrical fields to control combustion.
International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA
NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei completed another round of the Space Headaches study. Headaches are a common complaint during spaceflight and can influence crew performance during a mission. The ESA investigation searches for ways to improve the condition and help develop methods to alleviate symptoms and improve the health and safety of crew members. Data from the investigation could provide insight to the condition on Earth and help millions who suffer from headaches.
Progress was made on other investigations this week, including: Lighting Effects, Sally Ride EarthKAM, Biochem Profile, Marrow, ISS-CREAM, MUSES, SAGE III, MOBIV, Fine Motor Skills, Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study, ISS Ham Radio, and Meteor.
Veggie facility: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/383.html
Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1966.html
Circadian Rhythms: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/892.html
Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1908.html
Space Headaches: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/infographic_space_headache
Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2279.html
Sally Ride EarthKAM: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/90.html
Biochem Profile: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1008.html
SAGE III: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1004.html
Fine Motor Skills: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/898.html
ISS Ham Radio: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/346.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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