Crew Begins New Week With Focus on Biological Studies

Nepal seen from the space station
Astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted this picture over the weekend as the station passed over Nepal which was struck by a major earthquake. Credit: @StationCDRKelly

The Expedition 43 crew kicked off a new week by focusing on a number of biological experiments.

The crew participated in the Sprint study which evaluates the use of high intensity, low volume exercise training to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and cardiovascular function in crew members during long-duration missions.

Crew members also took part in Ocular Health checkouts as scientists search to better understand the vision changes some astronauts experience during spaceflight. They also collected samples for the Microbiome experiment which investigates the impact of space travel on both the human immune system and an individual’s microbiome.

Station commander Terry Virts did some troubleshooting on the Japanese airlock in preparation for the upcoming Robotics Refueling Mission-2 (RRM-2) operations. RRM-2, a joint study between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, investigates satellite repair and servicing techniques in space. Operators on the ground use the station’s special purpose dexterous manipulator, better known as Dextre, on the end of the Canadarm2, for fine robotics manipulation. Engineers are looking to determine whether it’s possible to refuel satellites and test electrical connections robotically.

Space Station Update

The Expedition 42 crew members are safe and in good shape inside the Russian segment of the International Space Station following an alarm in the U.S. segment at about 4 a.m. EST.

The crew received an update from spacecraft communicator James Kelly that it’s starting to look like a false indication, either a faulty sensor or computer relay. Flight controllers are continuing to analyze the situation but for now, there is still no direct evidence that ammonia was leaked into the station atmosphere.

› Listen to the update from spacecraft communicator James Kelly here

Space Station Update

The Expedition 42 crew members are safe and in good shape inside the Russian segment of the International Space Station following an alarm in the U.S. segment at about 4 a.m. EST.

Flight controllers in Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston saw an increase in pressure in the station’s water loop for thermal control system B then later saw a cabin pressure increase that could be indicative of an ammonia leak in the worst case scenario. Acting conservatively to protect for the worst case scenario, the crew was directed to isolate themselves in the Russian segment while the teams are evaluating the situation. Non-essential equipment in the U.S. segment of the station was also powered down per the procedures.

In an exchange at 7:02 a.m. with Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore of NASA, spacecraft communicator James Kelly said flight controllers were analyzing their data but said it is not yet known if the alarm was actually triggered by a leak or whether the situation was caused by a faulty sensor or by a problem in a computer relay box that sends data and commands to various systems on the station.

NASA TV will provide a live update at 7:45 a.m. ET at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

High-flying Turkey on Station Crew’s Thanksgiving Menu

The six International Space Station crew members, in orbit 260 miles above Earth, will enjoy a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving dinner but with a few tweaks.

While most Americans are roasting turkeys and emptying cranberry sauce out of cans, the station crew will be cutting open bags of freeze-dried, irradiated and thermostabilized foods.

Their menu will include traditional holiday fare with a space-food flair — irradiated smoked turkey, thermostabilized candied yams and freeze-dried green beans and mushrooms. The meal also will feature NASA’s own freeze-dried cornbread dressing — just add water. Dessert features thermostabilized cherry-blueberry cobbler.

The space station Expedition 42 crew is made up of Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA, Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA, Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of Russia’s Roscosmos and Italian Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency.

Station food generally resembles that, for the most part, flown in space since the inception of the Space Shuttle Program some 30 years ago. NASA is researching and developing ways to extend the shelf-life of food needed for deep space missions, such as those to Mars, and to minimize the volume of packaging. The agency also is using the International Space Station as a laboratory to learn how to grow plants, such as lettuce, in space.

Future crew members spending Thanksgiving in space may have one traditional staple, fresh sweet potatoes. The sweet potato may be one of the crops chosen for crews to grow on deep space missions. It provides an important energy source — carbohydrate — as well as beta-carotene.

The sweet potato is able to adapt to a controlled environment with artificial sunlight. It is highly adaptable to a variety of vine-training architectures. The main shoot tip, or the end of the main vine, is the only really sensitive part. It sends hormones throughout the plant that stimulate root development, which is important since it is the roots that become the sweet potatoes. The side shoots, if picked when young, are tender and can be eaten in salads, improving the plant’s usefulness.

Scientists believe most food items in the transit food system on future deep space missions will resemble those used on the station. Advanced processing and packaging methods will be needed to provide extended shelf lives and improved nutrition for the longer missions. Stored food and salad crops will be used in the early stages of planetary stays until permanent living bases are constructed.

Soyuz Rolls Out to Pad as Station Crew Prepares to Double in Size

Soyuz TMA-15M
The Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft is raised into position in preparation for launch on Nov. 24

A trio of new Expedition 42 crew members is in its final preparations before Sunday’s launch and six-hour ride aboard a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the International Space Station. The rocket with the Soyuz capsule rolled out to the launch pad Friday morning at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

› Read about live NASA TV coverage of the Expedition 42 launch

Aboard the station, Expedition 42 commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore worked on a plant growth experiment and continued calibration tests of the station’s new 3D printer. He also took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with ESPN Radio, giving them a look at life on the International Space Station.

› Read about Seedling Growth-2
› Read about 3D Printing In Zero-G
› Watch commander Wilmore talk to ESPN

Willmore’s fellow crew members, Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, worked on routine maintenance tasks and cargo transfers in the station’s Russian segment. Serova also conducted a test of the Russian segment’s computer network system.

Communicating the Benefits of Space, Science and Technology

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From the earliest days of civilization, humans have always used art as a way to communicate, commemorate, and challenge. As civilization has evolved so has the sophistication of visual arts. From crude drawings on stone and primitive paper, to the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the magic of moving pictures and television, and now video recording capabilities that are unmatched.

The beauty of art is that it connects with the viewer in a way that the written word can’t. A single motion, a paint stroke, a symbol can embody an event, a generation, even an entire period of history. So as civilization currently sits on the cutting edge of technology development, how can humans use art to communicate this progress?

The Humans In Space Art Video challenge was designed to give college students and early career professionals an opportunity to answer this question. The video challenge invites students to submit a video no longer than 3 minutes that answers the question, how will space, science and technology benefit humanity? Video entries can incorporate all forms of creative communication (e.g. visual, musical, animation and dance). Entries must be submitted online by November 15, 2014.

The video challenge is an outreach effort sponsored by CASIS, NASA’s International Space Station Program and the Humans in Space Art program. The International Space Station (ISS) is one of humankind’s greatest engineering feats and embodies the technological advancement and innovation of human civilization. The ISS inspired this year’s contest theme and the challenge allows contestants to creatively capture their thoughts about how current/future research and technology development will benefit and advance humanity.

Currently, humans are living and working on the ISS. Thousands of hours have been dedicated to space research on the International Space Station with the purpose of gaining necessary insight for future space exploration initiatives as well as providing solutions and insights into Earth-based challenges.

CASIS, the nonprofit organization that manages the U.S. National Laboratory on the ISS, has arranged for the first place winner of the video challenge to receive a monetary award and as a grand prize, the winning video will also take a trip into orbit on the space station!

To learn more about the video challenge, visit: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/humansinspaceart/challenge/

 

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