Biomedical research and space agriculture dominated the Expedition 60 crew’s schedule today. The investigations aboard the International Space Station are helping scientists, doctors and engineers plan human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Nick Hague of NASA started Tuesday morning collecting and stowing his blood and urine samples for a pair of life science studies. His blood samples are being compared with samples from space mice, other astronauts and ground patients for changes in protein expression. Another study is comparing the biological samples taken before, during and after a spaceflight.
NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up a 360-degree camera to record station gardening activities. The crew has been recording immersive, cinematic experiences throughout the year to share with audiences on Earth.
It was harvest time during the afternoon in the orbiting lab’s Harmony module today. Hague and Koch were picking salad-type plants after 28 days of growth, stowing samples for analysis and taste testing the rest. The VEG-04 botany study is exploring the viability of growing fresh food in space to support astronauts on long-term missions.
Exercising in microgravity is critical to maintain a crewmember’s health and ensure successful space missions. Commander Alexey Ovchinin spent Tuesday morning supporting a Russian study investigating the effectiveness of space workouts. In the afternoon, he moved on to lab maintenance changing out life support system components.
The six residents aboard the International Space Station today continued exploring how living in space impacts their bodies. The Expedition 56 crew also worked on science hardware and life support gear to ensure the orbital complex is in tip-top shape.
Three astronauts helped doctors understand what is happening to their eyes in the weightless environment of microgravity. One crew member has also worked all week on a pair of European experiments researching what happens during exercise and cognition on long-term missions in space.
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor joined ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst for more regularly scheduled eye checks today. Arnold led the morning’s retina scans using optical coherence tomography on the other two crewmates. Later in the afternoon, Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst swapped medical roles and peered into each other’s eyes looking out the optic disc and macula with a fundoscope.
Gerst continued working out today in a custom t-shirt in a specialized fabric testing its comfort and thermal relief for the SpaceTex-2 study. He then moved on to the GRIP study exploring how microgravity impacts an astronaut’s cognition when working with tools and interfaces aboard spacecraft.
The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed today from outside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s airlock. Inside the International Space Station, the Expedition 51 crew continued exploring microgravity’s effects on muscles, bone cells and vision.
Over a dozen CubeSats were ejected into Earth orbit this week outside the Kibo module to study Earth and space phenomena for the next one to two years. Today’s constellation of tiny satellites will explore a variety of subjects including hybrid, low temperature energy stowage systems and the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere known as the thermosphere.
Commander Peggy Whitson started her morning with eye checks for the Fluids Shifts study to determine how weightlessness affects eyes. That same study is also analyzing the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit for its ability to offset the upward flow of blood and other body fluids possibly affecting crew vision. Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin assisted European astronaut Thomas Pesquet into the unique suit today that draws fluids into the lower body preventing face-swelling and elevated head pressure.
More bone cell samples were inserted into a science freezer during the crew’s afternoon. The samples are part of the OsteoOmics experiment researching the mechanisms that drive bone loss in space. Results may impact therapies benefitting astronaut health and those suffering bone diseases on Earth.
New station crew member Jack Fischer is studying how high intensity, low volume exercise may improve muscle, bone and cardiovascular health in space. He scanned his thigh and calf muscles with an ultrasound device to help doctors understand the impacts of the new exercise techniques.
The crew wrapped up part of a muscle research program today while continuing other experiments to study the effects of living in space. Also, a new CubeSat deployer was installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.
Scientists want to understand how the lack of gravity impacts muscles that aren’t used due to working in the microgravity environment. The Sarcolab experiment is one study that measures how the calf muscle changes in space using an ultrasound and electrode stimulators. The first part of that experiment was completed today as its gear was stowed and data downlinked for analysis on Earth.
An enhanced small satellite deployer was installed in the Kibo module replacing an older model that deployed its last CubeSat on Monday. The new CubeSat deployer has twice the satellite deployment capacity than the previous version. CubeSats scheduled for release from the new deployer will study a variety of space phenomena and enable advanced satellite communications.