Human research and fluid physics were the main science experiments taking place aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday for four Expedition 69 astronauts. The three cosmonauts aboard the orbital outpost slept in following an overnight spacewalk to move and install hardware.
The latest space biology experiment taking place on the station explores how living long-term in weightlessness affects an astronaut’s eyes and brain. The lack of gravity causes blood and cerebrospinal fluid to shift toward the head creating ocular and cranial pressure. NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg studied that phenomena Wednesday morning and ways to offset the space-caused symptoms by collecting their blood pressure measurements and scanning their chests with the Ultrasound 2 device for the ISAFE investigation.
Afterward, Bowen peered at biological samples inside the Confocal Microscope testing its operations using fluorescence imaging techniques. Hoburg joined UAE (United Arab Emirates) Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi setting up hardware to kick off the CapiSorb Visible Systems fluid physics study. That experiment investigates the potential of using a liquid-based carbon dioxide removal system to promote more efficient space-based solutions and advanced Earth-bound applications.
The three astronauts, together with NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio, also spent a portion of Wednesday afternoon reviewing procedures and practicing robotic maneuvers for a spacewalk planned for April 28. Bowen and Alneyadi are scheduled to spend about six-and-a-half hours in the vacuum of space upgrading the orbital outpost’s power generation system. Space station managers will discuss the upcoming spacewalk live on NASA TV’s app and the agency’s website at 2 p.m. EDT on Monday.
The trio from Roscosmos will have a long sleep period before returning to a normal shift on Thursday. Prokopyev and Petelin will then spend the day cleaning their Orlan spacesuits and stowing their spacewalking tools in the Poisk module. Fedyaev will return the ERA to its stowage position on Nauka then power it down.
NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio performed microscopy and video recordings on eight BioCell tissue chambers for the Cardinal Heart 2.0 in the Life Sciences Glovebox. This investigation uses heart organoids to test whether clinically approved drugs reduce microgravity-induced changes in heart cell function. Rubio also removed the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device’s (ARED) cylinder flywheel and inspected the treadmill as part of monthly maintenance. The ARED exercises all major muscle groups while focusing on the primary resistive exercise: squats, deadlifts, and heel raises. Crew members exercise daily on ARED to maintain preflight muscle and bone strength during long periods in space.
Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi from UAE (United Arab Emirates) recorded a video of Cardinal Heart 2.0 tissue chambers. The investigation tests clinically approved pharmaceutical drugs to reverse the negative effects on heart cells and tissues caused by prolonged exposure to the space environment. Afterward, Alneyadi removed the Bio-Monitor garment and headband and synchronized the unit to the controller for data transfer. Alneyadi donned the Dry-EEG Headband overnight for sleep studies in space. Considering the central role of sleep in human behavior and health, sleep quality is a key factor for current and future exploration missions. The investigation monitors crew members’ quality of sleep by measuring duration, sleep stages, heart rate, and the number of awakenings.
Additionally, Rubio and Alneyadi spent the evening continuing to transfer the 6,200 pounds of research hardware and supplies between the space station and the uncrewed SpaceX CRS-27, which arrived at the orbital outpost on March 16.
Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos continued to replace the condensate evacuation lines that carry away excess moisture from the cabin atmosphere. Meanwhile, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin prepared cargo to return in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, slated to undock from the station’s Rassvet module on March 28.
Following the arrival of the uncrewed SpaceX CRS-27 resupply vehicle last week, the Expedition 68 crew continues transferring the 6,200 pounds of research hardware and supplies between the International Space Station and the cargo vehicle.
NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio spent his day participating in a cell biology experiment and replacing the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device cable arm rope to ensure proper tension in the cable-pulley system. Rope routing is critical for crew members to exercise in space, allowing crew members to experience load or resistance to help maintain muscle strength and mass during long periods in space.
NASA flight engineers Woody Hoburg and Stephen Bowen and Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi from UAE (United Arab Emirates) inserted ice bricks into the station’s Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory for ISS (MELFI) for temperature conditioning. MELFI is a cold storage unit that maintains experiment samples at ultra-cold temperatures throughout a mission and supports a wide range of life science experiments by preserving biological samples (such as blood, saliva, urine, microbial or plant samples) collected aboard the space station for later return and analysis back on Earth.
Hoburg installed the Tanpopo-5 hardware and samples onto the slide table in the Japanese Experiment Module airlock. The investigation studies the possibility of the survival and growth of organisms in the space environment and on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars. Hoburg also performed a hearing test with on-orbit hearing assessment headset and software, and took sound measurements using the acoustic monitor.
Alneyadi spent his day wearing the Bio-Monitor garment and headband for a 48-hour session. The instrument is equipped with sensors to measure physiological parameters to assess the effect of space travel on heart health.
Meanwhile, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin spent their day gathering cargo items to return in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, slated to undock from the station’s Rassvet module on March 28.
The six Expedition 47 crew members were back at work Tuesday exploring life science and other fields to advance humanity on and off Earth. The International Space Station residents also checked out new spacecraft communications gear.
Scientists are researching how the lack of gravity weakens bones and muscles. They are testing an antibody used on Earth that prevents this weakening in mice. The facility that houses the mice on the station for this study was inspected today then restocked with food.
Hardware was set up today that will measure fluid pressure in an astronaut’s head for the Fluid Shifts experiment. That study observes how living in space impacts cells and blood vessels and researches the possibility that it may affect vision.
The crew continues to document its living conditions on the space station to help engineers design future spacecraft with habitable accommodations. New radios that were installed in March are also being tested that will communicate with future spacecraft to visit the station.