Dragon Being Packed With Science as Research Wraps Up

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are seen while Auñón-Chancellor works inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the Micro-11 investigation. The study is looking to provide fundamental data indicating whether successful human reproduction beyond Earth is possible.

Numerous microgravity investigations are wrapping up this week onboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 56 crew is carefully packing the research results and science gear inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for return to Earth on Friday.

A host of life science studies being returned aboard Dragon looked at cancer therapies, gut microbes, and a variety of other biological phenomena. Samples collected from those studies, including the experiment hardware housing the research, are being transferred from the station and stowed inside the Dragon.

The AngieX Cancer Therapy investigation is completing its run today with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor finalizing research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The experiment tested a treatment that targets tumors and the resulting samples are being stowed inside Dragon science freezers.

Rodents studied for the Rodent Research-7 experiment to understand how microbes interact with the gut in space are being returned Friday. Biological samples observed in July for the Micro-11 human reproduction study are also being cold stowed aboard Dragon.

SpaceX technicians will retrieve Dragon loaded with the Earth-bound cargo when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean Friday afternoon. Once the cargo craft reaches port, personnel from NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) will collect the research and hardware and distribute it to scientists and engineers for analysis.


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Cancer Study Prepped for Earth Return Amid Time Perception Research

The Cygnus space freighter is poised for release from the Canadarm2
The Cygnus space freighter was pictured July 15 , 2018, poised for release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm back into Earth orbit ending a 52-day cargo mission at the International Space Station.

A new cancer therapy study is wrapping up aboard the International Space Station this week as an American cargo craft is packed for return to Earth. The Expedition 56 crew also researched how astronauts perceive time and distance in space and back on Earth.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor has been contributing to pharmaceutical research since the arrival of the AngieX Cancer Therapy experiment July 2 inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Today, she is examining endothelial cells in space to help determine if they make a good model for targeting the vasculature of tumor cells. Results may improve the design of safer, more effective therapies targeting cancer tumors.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold has been loading Dragon with hardware and science samples today ahead of its return to Earth on Friday. Results from the AngieX cancer investigation will also be stowed in Dragon this week for retrieval and analysis on Earth. Robotics controllers will release Dragon from the grips of the Canadarm2 Friday at 12:37 p.m. EDT as Auñón-Chancellor monitors from the Cupola. Less than six hours later, the commercial space freighter will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

Another U.S. cargo craft, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship, released from the space station on July 15 is getting ready to end its stay in space today. The Cygnus was detached from the station’s Harmony module in mid-July and has been orbiting Earth for engineering research. It is due to burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean at 5:07 p.m. today.

Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, worked in the Columbus lab module to help doctors understand how an astronaut’s perception of time and distance is affected during and after a mission. Results will help mission planners understand how astronauts adapt to space impacting the success and safety of long-term missions.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/ 

Today’s Science Focuses on Human Benefits While Crew Packs Dragon

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold processes microbial DNA using the Biomolecule Sequencer, a device that enables DNA sequencing in microgravity, to identify microbes able to survive in microgravity.

A trio of studies taking place today aboard the International Space Station explored a potential cancer therapy, researched human reproduction and observed protein crystals. Eye exams were also on the schedule to understand how microgravity impacts vision.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor started her morning peering at endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. Afterward, she moved on to the Micro-11 investigation examining more biological samples in a microscope to gain fundamental data about successful reproduction in space.

Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, contributed to pharmaceutical research during the afternoon stowing protein molecules in a science freezer. Microgravity enables the growth of high quality protein crystals revealing structures and properties that could improve disease-fighting therapies on Earth.

Gerst first started his day scanning NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold’s for eyes using Optical Coherence Tomography, a light imaging technique analogous to ultrasound. The data helps doctors understand how the weightless environment of microgravity impacts vision so mission controllers can plan safer spaceflight missions.

Finally, the SpaceX Dragon space freighter is being packed for its return to Earth on Aug. 3. Arnold and Commander Drew Feustel took turns today loading Dragon with station hardware and research samples for retrieval and analysis on Earth.

Station Boosts Orbit as Crew Studies Reproduction, Space Geology and Microbes

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducts research operations for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study
Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducts research operations for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The new cancer research seeks to test a safer, more effective treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels.

The International Space Station got an orbital boost today to position itself for a crew swap taking place later this year. Inside the lab complex, the current residents spent their time today exploring a diversity of phenomena impacted by long-term exposure to microgravity.

A docked Russian Progress 69 resupply ship fired its engines this morning slightly increasing the space station’s orbital altitude to enable the departure and arrival of a pair of Soyuz crew ships this autumn. Three Expedition 56 crew members will return to Earth Oct. 4 inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. They will be replaced a week later by two new Expedition 57 crew members when they dock inside the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor continued a second week of research operations to gain fundamental data about fertility in space. The duo examined biological samples in a microscope and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. The Micro-11 study is exploring the possibility of human reproduction in space including ways to address aging problems on Earth.

Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, explored the sedimentary properties of quartz and clay particles. The German astronaut mixed quartz and clay samples suspended in a liquid for photographic and video downlink to scientists on Earth. Observations can help guide future geological studies of unexplored planets and improve petroleum exploration here on Earth.

Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA split his time working on a variety of science gear that examines different microscopic properties. He set up Aerosol Samplers in the Harmony and Tranquility modules to collect airborne particles in the station’s air cabin for analysis. Arnold later stowed a Biomolecule Sequencer he used this month to sequence DNA extracted from microbes living on space station surfaces.

Rodent Research Returning Soon in Dragon For Analysis on Earth

 

The SpaceX Dragon and the International Space Station orbit above the Bahamas
The SpaceX Dragon and the International Space Station orbit above the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean.

Expedition 56 crewmembers collaborated for the second day in a row studying how living in microgravity impacts rodents. The space research onboard the International Space Station is helping doctors keep astronauts healthy in space and while developing advanced therapies for humans on Earth.

Rodent research, and a variety of other life science studies observing organisms in space, has been ongoing for years aboard the orbital laboratory. The latest experiment, Rodent Research-7, looks at how microbes affect the physiology of mice. The mice and research gear were delivered July 2 aboard the SpaceX Dragon. Scientists are seeking to understand how microbes affect the gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic, circadian, and sleep systems.

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Alexander Gerst collected blood samples and measured the bone mass of the rodents today. Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor contributed to the research work stowing biological samples in science freezers. The samples will be returned to Earth Aug. 3 when Dragon splashes down in the Pacific Ocean for retrieval and analysis by scientists on Earth.

Rodent Research Seeks to Benefit Astronauts and Earthlings

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel works inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox inspecting mice being observed as part of the Rodent Research-7 experiment.

Life science took precedence today aboard the International Space Station as the crew explored how microgravity impacts rodent physiology. The space research can help scientists improve astronaut health and treat humans on Earth.

Four Expedition 56 crew members worked together throughout the day examining mice for the Rodent Research-7 study. The experiment observes how microbes affect the gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic, circadian, and sleep systems. Results may help doctors implement programs to keep astronauts healthy on deep space missions. Patients on Earth may also benefit from newer advanced therapies that treat internal disorders.

Commander Drew Feustel joined Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Ricky Arnold and Alexander Gerst for the rodent study on Tuesday. The orbital lab researchers examined bone structure, collected blood samples and processed and stowed biological samples in science freezers.

Those samples will be returned to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Aug. 3 for analysis on Earth. Dragon will be packed with station hardware and research gear when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. It will be retrieved by SpaceX and NASA personnel for examination by engineers and scientists.

Fertility, DNA Studies and Disease Therapy Research on Station Today

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold works on gear inside the International Space Station.

The Expedition 56 crew members continued their work Friday on more fertility research and microbe studies aboard the International Space Station. They also worked on science gear for a study seeking advanced therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor examined biological samples for the Micro-11 fertility study. They looked at the samples through a microscope which were later stowed in a science freezer. The experiment seeks to determine if human reproduction would be possible off the Earth.

Feustel also spent some time in the morning working on the Amyloid experiment to help doctors develop advanced treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. He collected amyloid fibril samples from the Cell Biology Experiment Facility and stowed them in a science freezer for spectroscopy and microscopic analysis back on Earth.

European astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold were sampling the station’s atmosphere and surfaces for a pair of microbe investigations today. Gerst collected microbe samples and stowed them in a freezer for molecular analysis on Earth to identify potential pathogens on the station. Arnold processed microbial DNA using the Biomolecule Sequencer, a device that enables DNA sequencing in microgravity, to identify microbes able to survive in microgravity.

Today’s Research Explores How Space Impacts Life and Physics

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are at work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The six orbital residents living aboard the International Space Station worked on a broad array of advanced space experiments and research gear today. Today’s life science research included exploring fertility, extracting DNA from microbes and studying how the heart adapts to living in space. The crew also researched space physics observing magnetic fields, exploring the micro-properties of cement and detecting neutron radiation.

The Micro-11 experiment seeks to determine if human reproduction is possible in outer space. The study utilizes a microscope and the Microgravity Science Glovebox and observes sperm samples to determine the viability of fertility beyond Earth. DNA is being extracted from microbe samples swabbed off surfaces inside the space station. The DNA will be sequenced on Earth to help scientists understand how life adapts to microgravity. An ongoing Russian study is researching how a crew member’s heart and circulatory system adjusts to a long-term space mission.

A European astrophysics investigation is looking at how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with conductors. The study may provide insights for electrical engineers them design better space systems. Cement research is important in space and the crew has been exploring its microstructure possibly impacting the construction of future space habitats. Finally, radiation detectors have been deployed inside the orbital lab for a Canadian experiment to understand how neutrons affect astronauts.

Mid-week Cancer Study and Emergency Drill Fill Station Schedule

NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel begin cargo operations shortly after the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrived at the International Space Station packed with more than 5,900 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware.

Cancer and rodent studies were on the crew’s timeline today to help doctors and scientists improve the health of humans in space and on Earth. The crew also conducted an emergency drill aboard the International Space Station.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor examined endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. The new cancer research seeks to test a safer, more effective treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels. Commander Drew Feustel partnered with astronaut Alexander Gerst and checked on mice being observed for the Rodent Research-7 (RR-7) experiment. RR-7 is exploring how microgravity impacts microbes living inside organisms.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold and Gerst collected and stowed their blood samples for a pair of ongoing human research studies. Arnold went on to work a series of student investigations dubbed NanoRacks Module-9 exploring a variety of topics including botany, biology and physics.

During the afternoon, all six Expedition 56 crew members joined forces to practice a simulated emergency. The orbital lab residents went over escape routes and safety procedures while coordinating communication and decision-making with mission controllers in Houston and Moscow.

Station crew investigates quality of space-faring life with studies on cabin air, food systems

Space Algae in Veggie facility.
Space Algae culture bags are pictured after installation in the Veggie Facility. Image Credit: NASA
Today, Expedition 56 crewmates balanced work on science investigations in between housekeeping duties aboard the International Space Station.

The crew retrieved samplers as part of the Aerosol Sampling Experiment that had been deployed the day before in Nodes 1 and 3. After connecting them to chargers, they were redeployed for a second round of sampling. The battery-powered samplers pull in air and collect particles through thermophoresis, a process in which different particle types exhibit different responses to the force of a temperature gradient. The collected cabin air particles are later returned to Earth so investigators can study them with powerful microscopes.

The Veggie facility amped up production with an additional six space algae culture bags installed by the astronauts for future studies. The Space Algae investigation will further NASA’s understanding of how plants respond and grow in spaceflight using state-of-the-art omics approaches. Algae may perceive microgravity as a physical stress, which can trigger the production of high-value compounds. Scientists plan to sequence whole genomes of the space-grown algal populations to identify genes related to growth in spaceflight and evaluate how their composition changes in low-Earth orbit.

In addition, the crew continued the organization, packing and loading of items slated for return on SpaceX’s Dragon early next month.

Space enthusiasts should tune in to NASA Television this week as the Saint Louis Science Center and NASA’s Stennis Space Center each host educational downlinks as part of NASA’s Year of Education on Station. The Earth-to-space call with the Saint Louis Science Center happens July 18 at 12:20 p.m. EDT and will include summer campers ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Second to 10th graders participating in ASTRO CAMPs in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas will get their turn to engage with station residents about living and working in microgravity the following day, July 19, at 11:30 a.m. with Stennis hosting. Watch the events unfold live on NASA TV or the agency’s website.