Expedition 60 Studies the Keys to Survive and Thrive in Space

The unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft
The unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for an automated docking. Credit: NASA TV

As the week near its close, the crew of Expedition 60 caught up on maintenance activities while also continuing science investigations integral for the future of space exploration to destinations further into the solar system. 

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano performed servicing to the EXPRESS Rack located in the Columbus lab of the International Space Station. The EXPRESS Rack is instrumental in supporting science experiments, providing structural interfaces for power, data, cooling water and more to facilitate investigations in microgravity. 

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan continued examinations for Fluid Shifts, conducting remotely guided ultrasounds to track the movement of fluids within the body. Spread out over several weeks, the various measurements investigate if long-duration spaceflight can cause severe and lasting physical damage to an astronaut’s eyes. Aboard the orbiting laboratory, a Lower Body Negative Pressure device is being evaluated as a possible intervention for any harmful effects. 

Flight Engineer Christina Koch, meanwhile, spent time on Rodent Research habitat cleaning and feeding protocols. Such experiments, as a byproduct of learning how microgravity affects animals, provides relevant insight to human space exploration, basic biology and knowledge that can positively impact human health on Earth. 

Crew members performed scheduled maintenance on the Space Moss investigation — a plant-growth experiment attached to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility incubator. Moss, tiny plants without roots, need only a small area to thrive, and thus have potential in space far beyond low-Earth orbit, like on future Moon or Martian bases. 

The countdown is on for cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Alexey Ovchinin, who will wrap up packing the Soyuz MS-14 with gear before the spaceship returns to Earth Friday, Sept. 6. Viewers can watch NASA Television as it follows the undocking of the unpiloted vehicle, which begins at 1:45 p.m. EDT for a scheduled undocking at 2:14 p.m. The vehicle is anticipated to land at 5:34 p.m. in Kazakhstan, but with no NASA TV coverage. 

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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