With Christmas Around the Corner Crew Researching Why Cells Change in Space

Expedition 54 Crew Portrait
The Expedition 54 crew members (from left) are NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei, Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai.

Six Expedition 54 crew members will spend Christmas orbiting Earth sharing a traditional meal and opening goodies delivered on recent cargo missions to the International Space Station. Veteran crew member Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos is spending his third holiday season in space.

Meanwhile, advanced space science is taking place seven days a week on the orbital lab as the astronauts explore a variety of phenomena that can only be revealed in the microgravity environment. Human research is especially important as doctors learn how to keep space travelers healthy and strong during spaceflight.

The station’s newest Flight Engineers, Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of JAXA, collected and stored their blood samples this morning for the Cell-Free Epigenome experiment. The samples will be analyzed later on the ground for cellular changes that take place in crew members while living in space.

Astronaut Joe Acaba of NASA is testing new research hardware today for its ability to maintain cell cultures and enable cellular experiment work. Acaba swapped out gear inside the Bioculture System that is being validated as a long-term biological research facility.

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