mardi 8 mai 2018

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of April 30, 2018

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

May 8, 2018

Last week, crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy preparing the SpaceX Dragon capsule for its return to Earth. Packed with hardware and scientific samples, Dragon is scheduled to splash down to Earth no earlier than May 6.

Image above: Thunderstorms over southeast Asia as seen from the space station. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel continued to prepare for their upcoming spacewalk by taking their body measurements to ensure a proper fit inside their spacesuits. The duo will work outside the orbital lab to swap out thermal control gear that circulates ammonia to keep station systems cool.

Here is a look at some of the science that happened last week aboard your orbiting laboratory:

New centrifuge installed into Human Research Facility-2

The Human Research Facility (HRF) racks support human research, evaluating the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes induced by spaceflight. Experiments that use the capabilities provided by the racks will produce data to help scientists understand how the human body adapts to long-duration spaceflight.

Image above: A sprouting as a part of the Veggie PONDS investigation. Image Credit: NASA.

Last week, Feustel installed the HRF Payload Drawer containing the new centrifuge. After installation, airbags and launch materials were removed from the interior of the facility and the circuit breakers and switches were checked ahead of the checkout activity planned for Wednesday.

Japanese satellite launcher prepares for upcoming deployments

The JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) provides a novel, safe, small satellite launching capability to the space station. The J-SSOD is a unique satellite launcher, handled by the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS), which provides containment and deployment mechanisms for several individual small satellites.

Image above: The crew removes PCG-9 sample bags containing Copper Sulfate from a Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) and checks them for crystal growth. Image Credit: NASA.

Last week, the crew extended the slide table into the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) from the JEM Airlock (JEMAL) and installed the Multipurpose Experiment Platform (MPEP). Two small satellites were installed on to the MPEP for a later deployment.

Student experiment sees first crystal formations

The Wisconsin Crystal Growing Contest-Wisconsin Space Crystal Mission (CASIS PCG 9) investigation provides student researchers the opportunity to explore crystal growth in the microgravity environment of the space station. Crystals grown without the influence of gravity have shown to contain fewer imperfections and grow to larger sizes. Middle and high school students compete to grow the most-perfect ground-based crystal, as judged by experts in the crystallography field. The students who present the crystals with the fewest imperfections have the opportunity to fly their experiments to space.

Image above: Multi-Use Variable G Platform Food chamber removal and insertion with food chamber fixative. Image Credit: NASA- 

Last week, crew members removed sample bags containing Copper Sulfate from the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) and checked them for crystal growth. Crystals were present in every sample bag. The precipitant solution was removed from each bag using a syringe. This activity was necessary to prevent further crystal growth during the Dragon return process and to prevent the crystals from dissolving back into the precipitant solution.

Space to Ground: Releasing Dragon: 05/04/2018

Other work was done on these investigations: Crew Earth Observations, Mouse Stress Defense, DUST, Veggie PONDS, Polar, ASIM, SABL, Invitrobone, WORF, ACE-T-9,  Food Acceptability, SCAN Testbed, MISSE-FF, Made in Space Fiber Optics, Med-2, Lighting Effects, TSIS, Probiotics, ACE-T-7, and FFL-03.

Related links:

Human Research Facility (HRF):

JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD):

Crystal Growing Contest-Wisconsin Space Crystal Mission (CASIS PCG 9):

Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI):

Crew Earth Observations:


Veggie PONDS:







Food Acceptability:

SCAN Testbed:


Made in Space Fiber Optics:


Lighting Effects:





Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Yuri Guinart-Ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.

Best regards,

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