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.

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