This morning the three Expedition 47 crew members practiced evacuating the International Space Station in the event of an emergency. Afterward, it was back to work on advanced space science and orbital lab maintenance.
Several times a year the station residents get together to practice the communication and procedures necessary to escape an emergency situation. The crew practiced departing the space station quickly today and entering their docked Soyuz spacecraft for use as a lifeboat.
Before the emergency drill, Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) participated in a series of tests on a touchscreen tablet for the Fine Motor Skills study. The experiment is helping researchers understand how astronauts concentrate and work on detailed tasks and sensitive equipment during and after a long-term space mission.
After the drill, the trio split up as Kopra studied liquid crystals to help engineers design better display screens for use on Earth and in space. Peake moved on to the Magvector experiment and studied magnetic fields and electrical conductivity, possibly setting up the space station for future astrophysics research. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko investigated the forces the station experiences during orbital reboosts, spacecraft dockings and spacewalks among other activities.
The Expedition 46 crew members participated in immunology research today helping scientists learn to keep astronauts healthy on longer and farther space missions. The crew also continued more vision checks and explored heart health.
Commander Scott Kelly, British astronaut Time Peake and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko each participated in a different experiment looking at the immune system of space residents.
NASA astronaut Tim Kopra also joined Kelly and Kornienko for eye exams for an experiment studying vision impairment reported by some International Space Station astronauts. Kopra and Peake also partnered up for ultrasound scans of their arteries with guidance from doctors on the ground. The ongoing Cardio Ox study looks at an astronaut’s carotid and brachial arteries before, during and after a space mission.
The 2015 International Space Station R&D Conference officially kicked off in Boston today with researchers gathering to learn about the incredible breadth of research and technology development on humankind’s most innovative learning platform.
The day began with opening remarks from Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS Program Manager, followed immediately by his conversation with keynote speaker, Elon Musk, the CEO and Lead Designer of commercial space company SpaceX.
Panels for the day began with a talk on the role of the ISS as a “first step” away from our home planet on the path of human exploration that featured William Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Additional panels on Tuesday covered the benefits of microgravity for protein crystal growth in order to grow larger, more well-ordered crystals for pharmaceutical research, the capital investments and grants fueling the growth of “New Space” businesses and more.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the winners of the Galactic Grant Competition, a collaboration between the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. It has been established to provide access to a unique zero-gravity environment, that’s only available on the International Space Station lab, to Massachusetts based life sciences companies.
Awards were also presented to three investigations that were recognized for significant scientific results:
Joel Plawsky, Sc.D., and Peter C. Wayner Jr., Ph.D., both of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in recognition of work on the physics of evaporation and condensation in microgravity.
Robert J. Ferl, Ph.D., and Anna-Lisa Paul, Ph.D., both of the University of Florida in Gainesville, for their work using a plant as a real-time biosensor to determine the quality of the surrounding environment.
Daniela Grimm of Aarhus, Denmark, in recognition of her findings while growing thyroid cancer cells in orbit to determine new courses of treatment.
The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.
Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov practiced emergency procedures Tuesday, preparing the three crew members for the actions they would take in the unlikely event that they must evacuate the International Space Station.
Cristoforetti went back to work on the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES). She will be setting up MARES hardware inside the European Columbus lab module over the next two days. Virts assisted her with the MARES deployment just before lunchtime.
Virts later moved to the U.S. Destiny lab module to pack up a physics experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The commander stowed the Coarsening in Solid Mixtures-4 (CSLM-4) experiment, an investigation studying solid-liquid mixtures, which will be returned on a future SpaceX Dragon mission.
Meanwhile, Soyuz TMA-16M Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are preparing for launch on March 27, when they will join Expedition 43 at the orbital laboratory. Kelly and Kornienko will stay in space until March 2016. Padalka will return to Earth Sept. 11.
NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts are preparing to ready the International Space Station for a pair of international docking adapters (IDAs) that will allow future commercial crew vehicles to dock. The duo is almost set to start a series of three spacewalks routing cables and preparing the Canadarm2 for the installation of the IDAs to be delivered later this year.
The first spacewalk is now set to begin Saturday at 7:10 a.m. EST with NASA TV live coverage starting at 6 a.m. The second and third spacewalks are planned for Feb. 25 and March 1, both beginning at 7:10 a.m.
Amidst the spacewalk preparations, the Expedition 42 crew members continued ongoing advanced microgravity science benefiting life on Earth and current and future crew members. The crew looked at stem growth for the Aniso Tubule botany experiment, cell cultures grown on orbit and a crew member’s cardiac activity during long-duration missions.
After a week of medical science activities, the space station residents began the new week focusing on worms, fruit flies and plants. The tiny organisms provide scientists a model for larger organisms and how microgravity affects such things as immunity, muscles and bones.
Botany science in space helps scientists understand how plant cells and roots develop potentially supporting future crews on long-term missions and interplanetary exploration. There are numerous plant studies taking place on the station that not only may support future space missions but possibly improve crop production techniques on Earth.
The Expedition 42 crew members also worked on cargo transfers to and from the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as well as the ISS Progress 57 space freighter. An array of routine maintenance tasks were on the schedule including high-flying plumbing, spacesuit battery recharges and science hardware set ups.
The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), located inside the Destiny lab module, needs fuel so scientists can ignite materials to study the behavior of flames and smoke in space. Pieces of hardware that store and deliver fuel, including igniter tips, were replaced on the CIR Friday by Commander Barry Wilmore to keep the rack in operating condition.
Astronauts Terry Virts – with the help of Samantha Cristoforetti and doctors on the ground – participated in more eye checks, undergoing ultrasound scans and an echocardiogram to gather more information. The Ocular Health study seeks to understand how microgravity affects a crew member’s eyes and explain why some astronauts report impaired vision during their missions in space.
Virts also checked samples and transferred data collected for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which offers potential benefits for consumer and industrial products. Cristoforetti checked on the station’s fruit flies, and later worked maintenance on the Magvector study that observes how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor.
Ground controllers overnight remotely guided the Canadarm2, with its Dextre robotic hand attached, to deftly remove the CATS experiment from the SpaceX Dragon trunk. They then handed it off to the Japanese robotic arm for installation on the Kibo laboratory’s external platform. CATS, or Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, will collect data on the pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in Earth’s atmosphere to understand their impacts on global climate and create a better model of the climate feedback process.
Back inside the International Space Station, the Expedition 42 crew worked on an array of new and ongoing science and continued unpacking Dragon. There were eye exams as well as research into the effects of long stays in space on the human T-cells, which are a critical part of our immune system.
The crew also looked at how certain materials behave in space for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which offers potential benefits for consumer and industrial products. In addition, they checked on the station’s fruit flies, which are also monitored by scientists studying their immune system as a model for a crew member susceptibility to disease in space.
The six-member Expedition 42 crew worked Dragon cargo transfers and science on the International Space Station Wednesday.
Commander Barry Wilmore conducted botany research and harvested plants grown for the Advanced Plant Experiments-03-1 (APEX-03-1). The thale cress plants are photographed and preserved in a science freezer for analysis on the ground.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts processed samples for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which studies the processes that occur in materials for consumer and industrial products. He later unpacked more gear from inside Dragon.
Ground controllers are preparing the Canadarm2 and Dextre to remove the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment from Dragon’s exposed trunk and install it on a platform on the outside of Japan’s Kibo laboratory. CATS will observe aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere to understand the impacts to global climate and create a better model of the climate feedback process.
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 attached will roll out to the launch pad Friday morning at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Aboard the orbital laboratory, the current crew members, Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, are working their scheduled task list of ongoing science and maintenance.
Wilmore opened the Fluids Integrated Rack to configure a microscope for the ACE-M-3 experiment. The advanced fluids study observes small particles suspended within a liquid that build into 3D structures. During the afternoon, the commander worked on Europe’s Kubik incubator that supports life science with organisms such as seeds, cells and small animals.
The orbiting cosmonauts got back together again Thursday working on a Russian chemistry education experiment with Russian school children. The duo also worked throughout the Russian segment checking cables, inspecting panels and conducting preventative maintenance on the ventilation system and oxygen generator.