Station Crew Works on Space Biology and Spacesuits

Astronaut Raja Chari tests using tools while wearing a spacesuit glove inside the space station's U.S. Quest airlock.
Astronaut Raja Chari tests using tools while wearing a spacesuit glove inside the space station’s U.S. Quest airlock.

A host of life science experiments is underway today as the Expedition 66 crew explores how living in space affects the human body. The International Space Station is also gearing up this month for a pair of spacewalks to upgrade its power systems.

Skin, hearing, and mold were the main focus of today’s biology research aboard the orbiting lab. Blood, saliva, and urine sample collections were also on Tuesday’s schedule as scientists keep check of astronaut health.

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn looked at skin tissue samples to understand why microgravity accelerates skin aging in astronauts. Afterward, he cleaned the Life Science Glovebox and closed out operations for the experiment that seeks to prevent skin deterioration in space and improve skin conditions on Earth.

Marshburn also collected his blood and urine samples before stowing them in a science freezer. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei collected his saliva samples then stowed them for future analysis. Doctors on the ground observe the biological samples to gain insights into how the human body adapts to long-term microgravity. Vande Hei also activated the Space Biofilms experiment to learn how to control mold growth on the station to maintain spacecraft safety and crew health.

Scientists also want to understand how the station’s operating environment, including weightlessness itself, affects a crew member’s hearing. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer participated in the Acoustic Diagnostics study during the afternoon that is monitoring any transitory or permanent hearing affects that might occur in crew members.

Two spacewalks are scheduled at the station for March 15 and 23 to ready the orbiting lab for a third set of roll out solar arrays.  Vande Hei joined NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari and scrubbed cooling loops in a pair of U.S. spacesuits throughout Tuesday. Two astronauts will exit the station and set up a power channel for the first spacewalk then replace components and perform more upgrades on the second spacewalk.

NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron spent most of the day on an orbital plumbing demonstration. She worked in the Harmony module observing fill and drain cycles on two different Collapsible Contingency Urinal designs.

In the station’s Russian segment, Commander Anton Shkaplerov worked inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship readying the vehicle for its undocking on March 30. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inspected the Zvezda service module then explored cell biology.


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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