Fluid Studies Today Benefit Astronauts and Kids

Expedition 50 flight engineer Thomas Pesquet
Expedition 50 flight engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) juggles a set of video cameras in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

The Expedition 50 crew members explored a variety of space phenomena today to help researchers improve life for humans and stimulate children’s curiosity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Scientists are working to understand how fluids behave not just in spacecraft fuel tanks and containers but also inside an astronaut’s body. Microgravity creates a headward flow of fluids that increases pressure on the back of an astronaut’s eyes potentially causing damage and affecting vision.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and her Soyuz crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Sergey Ryzhikov explored the effectiveness of a suit that may reverse these upward fluid shifts. Whitson and Novitskiy used a combination of eye exams and ultrasound artery scans on Ryzhikov today while he wore the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit today. The LBNP may offset the microgravity-induced fluid shifts possibly reducing the risk of vision changes in space.

Commander Shane Kimbrough reached out to schoolchildren this morning reading a story book and videotaping a simple fluids experiment. The Story Time From Space series seeks to increase science literacy by engaging students and teachers.


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Astronauts Improving Space Science Productivity

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet poses with a photo of several of his European astronaut predecessors taken aboard the International Space Station.

The International Space Station residents are wrapping up their work week today installing and checking science communications gear. The Expedition 50 crew is also continuing to explore how long-term space flight affects eyesight.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet worked on increasing the operations and communication capabilities of science gear. The duo worked on separate devices to improve data transfers between different science racks allowing more research to be conducted on orbit.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson joined cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Andrey Borisenko for ongoing research into eye damage and vision changes that may be caused by living in space. A possible solution to the upward fluid pressure that may harm an astronaut’s eyes is the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit

Whitson donned the suit today which pulls fluids down towards the feet to offset the headward flow. Novitskiy and Borisenko used an ultrasound scan and performed eye checks on Whitson to determine the effectiveness of the suit.

Crew Studies How Space Affects Eyesight

Crewmates at Mealtime
Expedition 50 crewmates (from left) Andrey Borisenko, Oleg Novitskiy and Peggy Whitson at mealtime in Unity module.

The Expedition 50 crew is continuing its investigation into vision changes and eye damage some astronauts have experienced after long-term missions in space. Living in the microgravity environment causes a headward fluid shift that may be causing pressure behind astronauts’ eyes resulting in visual and physical changes.

Two cosmonauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet explored a possible solution to the upward fluid pressure. Borisenko donned the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit which pulls fluids down towards the feet. Ryzhikov and Pesquet then used an ultrasound scan and performed eye checks on Borisenko to determine the effectiveness of the LBNP suit.

On the station maintenance front, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installed vacuum access ports in the Harmony module. Commander Shane Kimbrough connected gas and water umbilical hoses in the Columbus lab module. He also updated supplies for the Human Research Facility that enables scientists to learn how astronauts adapt to living in space.

Crew Switches to Human Research after Spacewalks

European Astronaut Thomas Pesquet
European astronaut Thomas Pesquet inserts a locker into a science freezer. The locker holds scientific samples for stowage and later analysis.

Following a successful pair of spacewalks, the Expedition 50 crew has switched gears and is moving full-speed ahead with advanced space research. The orbital residents checked out science gear and studied the impacts of living in space.

European astronaut Thomas Pesquet repressed the Japanese Kibo lab module airlock after a small satellite deployer shot a set of tiny satellites, or CubeSats, into Earth orbit on Monday. The variety of CubeSats will test new spacecraft deorbiting and propulsion technologies and be used for communication purposes.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson joined veteran cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy for the ongoing Fluid Shifts study and collected blood, urine and saliva samples. The human research experiment seeks to investigate vision and eye damage some astronauts have reported after their space missions.

Commander Shane Kimbrough worked on combustion science gear troubleshooting a pair of devices that explore flames and high temperatures in space. Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov worked inside a docked Soyuz spacecraft recharging computer batteries.


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Crew Studying Life Science During Hurricane Flyovers

Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew, a huge category 4 level storm, as seen from the International Space Station Oct. 3, 2016.

The International Space Station has been flying over Hurricane Matthew all week as the storm hit the Caribbean Sea and makes its way towards Florida. While the citizens of Florida braced for the hurricane’s impact, the crew researched how living in space impacts the human body.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi collected their blood samples, spun them in a centrifuge and stored the samples in a science freezer. The samples will be examined on Earth to understand the detrimental effects of living in space on bone marrow and blood cells.

Rubins also joined Commander Anatoly Ivanishin for eye checks today to explore the headward fluid shifts astronauts experience during long-term space missions. These fluid shifts increase pressure on the brain and eyes, potentially causing vision problems. The duo used a series of tools including an ultrasound to examine their eyes.

Finally, Onishi researched how microgravity affects microbes living inside humans, possibly upsetting the immune system. The Japanese astronaut also worked on a device that enables materials to burn safely at high temperatures for combustion research.


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BEAM Open Today for Tests

BEAM
BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is pictured installed on the Tranquility module and expanded to its full-size volume.

BEAM, the new expandable module attached to the International Space Station, was opened up today for tests and equipment checks. The Expedition 49 crew also explored eating right in space, adapting to new technology and studied a variety of other life science and physics research.

Flight Engineer Kate Rubins opened up and entered the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module this afternoon. She temporarily installed gear inside BEAM for a test to measure the loads and vibrations the module experiences. Rubins started her day with a performance test on a mobile tablet device then videotaped her observations of the living conditions aboard the space station.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi started an 11-day run today to document his meals while wearing a monitor that will take water samples and measure his breathing. The ENERGY experiment will help doctor’s understand metabolism in space and ensure astronauts are properly nourished to maintain the energy required for a long-term mission. Onishi is also continuing to set up the Group Combustion fuel burning study and checked for pressure leaks in the experiment gear.

In the Russian side of the orbital laboratory, Commander Anatoly Ivanishin resumed studying charged particle systems trapped in a magnetic field. He also participated in a pair of Earth photography experiments observing how natural and man-made disasters including industrial activities affect the land and sea.


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Sound Check as Physics and Life Research Continues

Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft is pictured during a day time pass over the Earth.

The three Expedition 49 crew members measured noise levels on the International Space Station today and continued exploring how physical and organic phenomena are affected by weightlessness.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins surveyed the acoustic environment inside the station today. She analyzed the sound levels of various life support gear and took standard measurements in the Destiny lab module and the Zvezda service module. Rubins also partnered up with Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi to remix, photograph and stow samples for the Hard to Wet Surfaces pharmaceutical study.

Onishi began his day testing his performance on a mobile tablet device. The study, known as Fine Motor Skills, observes how an astronaut adapts to new technology and could help engineers design next generation spacecraft, spacesuits and tools. He then moved onto setting up equipment for the upcoming Group Combustion experiment to research how fuel burns in space. Results could influence the future production of rocket engines and industrial furnaces.

On the Russian side of the station, Commander Anatoly Ivanishin sampled different areas searching for mold fungus and bacteria contamination. The commander then repressurized the station’s environment with air from a docked cargo ship and worked on life support system maintenance.


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Fire and Water Studies for Space and Earth Benefits

Sunrise During Expedition 49
This sunrise is one of 16 the space station crew sees everyday aboard the space station.

Two different studies are under way on the International Space Station – one will observe how fuel burns in space while another is researching how medicine dissolves in water. Results from both experiments could benefit humans on Earth and in space.

Astronaut Takuya Onishi is setting up the Group Combustion experiment that will explore how flames spread across a cloud of fuel droplets. Observations may help engineers design advanced rocket engines, as well as gas turbines and industrial furnaces.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is researching how pharmaceutical materials dissolve in water for the Hard to Wet Surfaces study. The space environment can reveal processes masked by Earth’s gravity and help scientists improve how drugs work in humans on Earth and in space.

Commander Anatoly Ivanishin was back at work studying how charged particle systems react when trapped in a magnetic field. The veteran cosmonaut, who is on his second station mission, also explored new methods to detect and target landmarks improving Earth photography techniques.


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Eye Scans, Orbital Plumbing and Story Time for Crew

Japanese Astronaut Takuya Onishi
Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi is at work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are continuing more eye checks today in the middle of day-long orbital plumbing work. Commander Anatoly Ivanishin packed trash in a resupply ship and researched a variety of Earth and space phenomena.

Rubins and Onishi scanned each other’s eyes today using an ultrasound. Doctors on the ground assisted the duo and will use the data to determine how living in space affects vision and the shape of the eye. The pair also participated in the Story Time From Space video series for children demonstrating simple physics experiments.

Onishi spent most of his day replacing parts such as sensors and valves in the bathroom, or the Water and Hygiene Compartment, located in the Tranquility module. Rubins analyzed the quality of the station’s water supply and sampled for microbes, silica and organic material.

Ivanishin, a veteran cosmonaut on his second station mission, is getting the Progress 63 cargo craft ready for departure next month. He transferred cargo and trash to and from the resupply ship then updated the station’s inventory management system. The commander also spent some time exploring new ways to monitor natural disasters, how the digestive system adapts in space and detecting orbital debris and micrometeoroid impacts on the station.


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Astronauts Study Pill Properties and Laser Heating

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins wears a hand-painted spacesuit decorated by patients recovering at the MD Anderson Cancer Center to raise awareness about the benefits of pairing art with medicine.

The Expedition 49 crew is helping the pharmaceutical industry improve drug design while also helping researchers understand the properties of materials burning at high temperatures. The International Space Station‘s microgravity environment helps reveal new characteristics of physical and organic processes cloaked by Earth’s gravity. Scientists, doctors and engineers use these observations to design products and procedures to benefit humans living on Earth and in space.

The new Eli Lilly-Hard to Wet Surfaces experiment is researching how different materials dissolve in water. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins set up a camera to automatically photograph the process today using six samples. Results could benefit how pills are designed improving drug delivery inside the body.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi swapped samples for the Group Combustion experiment inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The furnace is a device that observes and measures the thermophysical properties of materials heated to high temperatures using lasers. Onishi is also closing out the Mouse Epigenetics study and cleaning up the Cell Biology Experiment Facility. The life science facility contains an incubator with an artificial gravity generator.

Commander Anatoly Ivanishin continued checking out Russian laptop computers and life support systems today. The veteran cosmonaut also transferred gear from a cargo ship and wrapped up a 24-hour data recording session for the Cosmocard blood circulation study.


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