Human Research Exploring How Astronauts Adapt to Long-Term Spaceflight

Astronaut Kayla Barron works on a space agriculture experiment that explores how to grow fresh food in space.
Astronaut Kayla Barron works on a space agriculture experiment that explores how to grow fresh food in space.

A host of human research activities dominated Thursday’s research schedule aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 66 crew members explored how living in microgravity affects sense of orientation, visual function, and the spine.

At the beginning of the day, NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron gathered again in the Columbus laboratory module for the GRIP study. The duo took turns strapping themselves in a specialized seat for the second time this week gripping a control device in response to dynamic events to explore how microgravity affects an astronaut’s sense of motion and orientation. They will have one more session on Friday for the experiment that may inform the design of future spacecraft interfaces.

Chari later spent the afternoon on a series of spinal exams with Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency). The astronauts swapped roles as crew medical officer marking their lower, or lumbar spinal section. Then with remote guidance from doctors on the ground, the duo took turns scanning each other’s lumbar spinal section with the Ultrasound 2 device for insights into how the skeletal system adapts to weightlessness.

Matthias first started the day with NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn conducting biology research inside the Kibo laboratory module. The duo performed operations using the Life Science Glovebox investigating how spaceflight affects visual function by examining changes in the vascular system of the retina and tissue remodeling.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who is on his way to breaking the NASA astronaut single spaceflight record, spent Thursday configuring hardware to support a pair of fire safety experiments. He was inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module setting up the Combustion Integrated Rack to support upcoming operations for the SoFIE, or Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction, studies.

Working in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment, Commander Anton Shkaplerov studied advanced ways to detect Earth landmarks for photography sessions. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov worked throughout the day installing components and setting up crew cabins inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

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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