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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Dragon Being Loaded With Science for Return to Earth

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the Harmony module a few days after its arrival in July.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is getting ready to return to Earth Friday morning loaded with gear and a variety of science for analysis. Another spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-20M, will leave Sept. 6 and land in Kazakhstan with three International Space Station crew members.

Dragon delivered numerous science experiments July 20 that the Expedition 48 crew immediately unloaded and began working on. Two of those experiments set to return on Friday include the Heart Cells study and Mouse Epigenetics. That research explored how microgravity affects human heart cells and alters gene expression and DNA in mice.

The station will get an orbital reboost early Wednesday when the docked Progress 63 cargo craft fires its engines for over 12 minutes. The reboost will put the station at the correct altitude for the departure of the Expedition 48 trio next month.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will return to Earth in two weeks after 5-1/2 months in space. Williams will be completing his fourth space mission and hold the NASA record for cumulative days in space. Skripochka will be completing his second mission and Ovchinin will be completing his first.

Crew Tries On Spacesuits, Conducts Heart and Meteor Research

Spacesuit Checks
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams try on their U.S. spacesuits. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin assisted the duo. Credit: NASA TV

A pair of astronauts tried on U.S. spacesuits this morning ahead of a spacewalk next week. Afterward, the crew explored heart cells, fluid pressure in the head and the eyes and the composition of meteors.

NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins are due to work outside the International Space Station on Aug. 19 for 6.5 hours. The duo tried on the spacesuits today they will wear during the spacewalk to complete the installation of the first of two International Docking Adapters to the Harmony module. Commercial Crew vehicles are being developed by Boeing and SpaceX that will dock to the new adapters in the future.

Rubins then moved on to observing heart cells with a specialized microscope. The heart cells are derived from stem cells that were manufactured from human skin cells.

Williams joined cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin for ultrasound scans and vision checks. That work was part of the Fluid Shifts study that is exploring how the lack of gravity influences head pressure and eye shape possibly affecting an astronaut’s vision.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi replaced a hard drive on a laptop computer that collects data on the composition of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere. Cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin participated in a study that seeks to improve the ability of a crew member to pilot a spacecraft.

Eye Exams and Spacesuit Checks Today

Fluids Shifts
Fluids shift toward the upper body in space since they don’t have to fight against gravity. This results in familiar phenomena such as a puffy face. The fluid shifts also affect intra-cranial pressure and eye shape. Credit: NASA Johnson YouTube

The Expedition 48 crew continued more eye exams and ongoing research to understand how microgravity shifts body fluids toward the upper body. Two NASA astronauts also checked out U.S. spacesuit safety gear and tools.

All six crew members participated in variety of eye exams throughout the day. Some of the eye checks also coincided with the Fluid Shifts study. That research observes how fluid pressure in space affects a crew member’s head and eyes, possibly affecting vision.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are getting ready for an Aug. 19 spacewalk to install an International Docking Adapter. The docking port, delivered by the SpaceX Dragon last month, will enable future commercial crew spacecraft from Boeing and SpaceX dock to the station. The spacewalkers checked their spacesuit safety jetpacks they would use in the unlikely event they became separated from the International Space Station.

 

Spacesuit Checks amid Life Science and Emergency Training

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams work on spacesuits in the Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are getting ready for a spacewalk amidst ongoing heart and genetics research this week. The crew also practiced the techniques necessary to care for a crew member during a medical emergency in space.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are due to complete the installation of a new International Docking Adapter during a spacewalk Aug. 19. The duo are setting up their spacesuits today, including a new one delivered on the SpaceX Dragon, and verifying the functionality of the suit systems.

Rubins started her day peering into a microscope exploring cell samples for the Heart Cells experiment. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi kept the Mouse Epigenetics habitat stocked with food and water for the experiment observing genetic alterations in mice and DNA changes in their offspring.

Rubins and Onishi joined cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin in the afternoon for a medical emergency training session. The crew members familiarized themselves with medical gear and locations, chest compression techniques and practiced communication and coordination.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Astronauts Exploring Head, Eye Pressure and Genetic Alterations

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins conducts research for the Heart Cells experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox located in the U.S. Destiny lab module.

The crew aboard the International Space Station continued exploring the numerous ways living in space affects the human body and other organisms. The station residents also participated in an emergency simulation exercise.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka this week are exploring fluid shifts from an astronaut’s lower body to the upper body during long-term space missions. This phenomena that occurs in microgravity increases pressure on a crew member’s brain and eye structure potentially affecting vision.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins relocated an incubator that houses Heart Cells research samples from one science rack to another. Those samples will be analyzed on Earth when the SpaceX Dragon returns the research at the end of August. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi continued the upkeep of an experiment that is researching genetic alteration in mice and their offspring due to the microgravity environment.

All six Expedition 48 crew members joined each other in the afternoon to practice their response to an unlikely emergency situation. The astronauts and cosmonauts practiced communication and coordination in conjunction with Houston and Moscow control centers in response to emergency simulators.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Crew Kicks off August on Variety of Advanced Space Research

South Pacific Ocean
The South Pacific Ocean was pictured as the station orbited at an altitude of 220 nautical miles and over a thousand miles away from the coast of South America. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

The six-member Expedition 48 crew participated in a series of experiments today exploring how living in space affects the human body. Also, a set of bowling ball-sized experimental satellites was set up for a student contest.

Scientists are sampling crew respiration today to understand the health impacts of living in the International Space Station’s closed atmosphere. Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi used a portable device measuring the amount of nitrogen that is exhaled and diffused in the blood.

Onishi also collected biological samples for the Multi-Omics study that is observing how the human immune system functions in space. Commander Jeff Williams set up hardware to research how upper body fluid shifts affect a crew member’s head and eye structure.

Williams then joined cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka configuring tiny internal satellites for a planned high school student competition next week. The contest, known as SPHERES Zero Robotics, uses student written algorithms to control small SPHERES satellites performing functions similar to a space mission.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Cygnus Leaves Station Tuesday Morning

Cygnus Arrives at Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured arriving at the station March 26. The tip of the Canadarm2 that captured Cygnus moments later is at top right.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station beginning at 9 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 14. Release from the space station’s Canadarm2 is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

About five hours after departure, the Saffire-I experiment will take place onboard the uncrewed cargo craft. Saffire-I provides a new way to study a realistic fire on a spacecraft. This hasn’t been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on crewed spacecraft are too high. Instruments on the returning Cygnus will measure flame growth, oxygen use and more. Results could determine microgravity flammability limits for several spacecraft materials, help to validate NASA’s material selection criteria, and help scientists understand how microgravity and limited oxygen affect flame size. The investigation is crucial for the safety of current and future space missions.

Watch the departure live on NASA TV or at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

For more information about Orbital ATK’s mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk.

For more information about the International Space Station, and its research and crews, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

More Cubesats Deployed as Crew Studies Bones and Muscles

Commander Tim Kopra
Commander Tim Kopra, from Austin, Texas, poses inside the cupola as the station orbits over the Earth below.

A new wave of Cubesats was shot into space today for a wide variety of Earth observations and communications research. The crew also explored life science and worked on high-flying plumbing tasks.

Today’s set of Cubesat deployments from the Kibo lab module’s airlock was the second of three consecutive days of deployment operations. The Dove Satellites deployed today are built and operated by Planet Labs Inc. and take images of Earth for several humanitarian and environmental applications.

Back inside the International Space Station, the crew took bone density measurements in mice in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to learn how living in space affects muscles and bones. The Rodent Research-3 experiment is testing an antibody used on Earth that may prevent muscle and bone wasting in space possibly improving the health of astronauts and humans on the ground.

The Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC), one of the orbital lab’s restrooms, experienced a problem last week requiring some part replacement work. That maintenance work coincided with the installation of a new Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in support of transition to new pre-treat formula which aims to increase the amount of urine that is recycled into potable water.