Space Biology, Physics and Suit Checks Start Memorial Weekend

The "southern lights" above the Indian Ocean
The aurora australis, also known as the “southern lights,” is pictured as the International Space Station orbited 264 miles above the Indian Ocean south of the Australian island state of Tasmania.

The Expedition 59 crew is starting the Memorial Day weekend studying biology, physics and orbital manufacturing techniques. The space residents will also be busy on the U.S. holiday conducting more research and getting ready for the year’s fourth spacewalk at the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) analyzed his own blood sample today testing the new Bio-Analyzer. The biomedical device from the CSA tests a variety of biomarkers to measure molecular signs of health on the station. He also worked on another biology platform that can produce gravity levels up to 2g for research on an array of materials and small organisms.

Japan’s Kibo laboratory module enables astronauts to place and retrieve space exposure experiments outside of the orbiting lab. Flight Engineer Nick Hague swapped some of those exposed samples today from a platform inside Kibo. The long-running materials exposure studies at the station help scientists understand how microgravity and radiation affect a variety of materials.

Christina Koch of NASA continued exploring the production of superior quality optical fibers inside the U.S. Destiny lab module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The variety of elements used in the manufacturing process are difficult to control on Earth with gravity bearing down on them. The space-created samples will be analyzed on the ground for their potential to improve a variety of applications such as medicine, navigation, communication and atmospheric monitoring.

At the end of the day, Flight Engineer Anne McClain checked out emergency space navigation techniques using a sextant. She peered at constellations from the cupola during an orbital night period while inspecting and calibrating the hand-held device.

Meanwhile, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin continued setting up their spacesuits and tools today. Next week they will review procedures and timelines for their approximately six-hour spacewalk for external maintenance scheduled for around 11:45 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

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