Science and Exercise Hardware Work as Trio Nears Departure

A waxing crescent Moon during is pictured from the station during an orbital sunset as it flew above the Pacific Ocean.
A waxing crescent Moon during is pictured from the station during an orbital sunset as it flew above the Pacific Ocean.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew spent Thursday servicing physics research gear and exercise hardware aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbiting lab’s three visitors are preparing for their departure on Sunday.

The coldest temperatures in the Universe can be found inside the space station’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL). Atoms are chilled to temperatures near absolute zero allowing scientists to observe fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics not possible on Earth. NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari opened the CAL today and replaced computer hardware inside the space physics device.

Human research is always ongoing aboard the station helping scientists understand how microgravity affects humans as NASA prepares to go to the Moon, Mars and beyond. NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn scanned his right leg’s femoral artery with an ultrasound device to observe accelerated aging-like characteristics in the cardiovascular system that take place in weightlessness.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov replaced a motor inside the Zvezda service module’s treadmill during the afternoon. Flight surgeons regularly monitor space exercise ensuring crew members maintain muscle and bone health during long term space missions.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei took a robotics test for the Behavioral Core Measures space psychology study and continued researching how to manipulate nanoparticles. Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) spent his day maintaining science and computer systems inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Three station visitors are nearing the end of their mission and getting ready to return to Earth on Sunday. Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin led Japanese spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano on a review of the descent procedures they will use as they soar into the atmosphere aboard the Soyuz MS-20 crew ship. The trio will undock from the Poisk module on Sunday at 6:50 p.m. EST and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:13 p.m.

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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