Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Feb 12, 2018

ISS – Expedition 54 Mission patch.

Feb. 17, 2018

The crew members aboard the International Space Station spent the week conducting science, unloading a newly-arrived cargo delivery and preparing for a Friday morning spacewalk with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai.

Animation above: The Transparent Alloys was reinstalled within the Microgravity Science Glovebox this week, as seen above. Animation Credit: NASA.

Take a more detailed look at some of the science that happened last week aboard your orbiting laboratory:

Double grow-out continues within Veg-03 investigation

The Veg-03 investigation within the Vegetable Production Facility (Veggie) expands on previous validation tests of the Veggie hardware, which crew members use to grow cabbage, lettuce and other fresh vegetables in space. This marks the first time that two grow-outs have been initiated using two Veggie facilities in parallel aboard the space station. These plants will provide the crew the opportunity to consume fresh vegetables every few days, while some of the products from this run will be returned to Earth for testing. This week, the crew members, or space gardeners, worked to maintain the plants growing within the plant pillows by thinning the plants and priming the pillows.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

JAXA astronaut demonstrates microgravity’s impact on everyday tasks

In addition to spacewalk preparations, Kanai also spent time teaching children and adults how microgravity impacts everyday tasks. Try Zero-G for Asia gives the public, including children and adults, the opportunity to vote for and suggest tasks for JAXA crew members, demonstrating the difference between Earth’s gravity and the microgravity environment of the space station. This week, Kanai demonstrated the use of a variety of objects including a paper boomerang, a paper airplane, a gyroscope, a slinky and liquids.

Investigation tests new method of storm intensity measurement

Image above: A view of Typhoon Gita, near the South Pacific island nation of tonga, taken as a part of the Tropical Cyclone investigation. Image Credit: NASA.

The Cyclone Intensity Measurements from the ISS (Tropical Cyclone) investigation captures images of tropical cyclones and hurricanes that are rated at Category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson scale. A pseudo-stereoscopic method is used to determine the altitudes of the cloud tops near the eye of a cyclone by precisely tracking the positions of cloud features with respect to the Earth and how those positions change over time as an observer, the space station in this case, passes over the storm. The images demonstrate that pseudo-spectroscopy can be used to measure the cloud altitudes to sufficient precision so that, when combined with other remote-sensing data, an accurate determination of the intensity of hurricane or cyclone can be made. This week, the crew configured the camera settings in the Cupola to take untended images of the Category 3 Typhoon Gita, near the South Pacific island nation of Tonga.

Other work was done on these investigations: Personal CO2 Monitor, Crew Earth Observations, CLD FLAME, Microbial Tracking-2, Neuromapping, Space Headaches, Lighting Effects, Transparent Alloys, DOSIS-3D, AstroPi, EIISS, Manufacturing Device, VESSEL ID, Plant Gravity Perception, CBEF, Rodent Research-6, BioLab, and DreamXCG.

Space to Ground: Light Storm: 02/16/2018

Related links:

Vegetable Production Facility (Veggie):


Try Zero-G for Asia:

Personal CO2 Monitor:

Crew Earth Observations:


Microbial Tracking-2:


Space Headaches:

Lighting Effects:

Transparent Alloys:



Manufacturing Device:


Plant Gravity Perception:


Rodent Research-6:



Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 53 & 54.

Best regards,

Hubble’s Window into the Cosmic Past

NASA – Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Feb. 16, 2018

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy cluster PLCK G004.5-19.5. It was discovered by the ESA Planck satellite through the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect — the distortion of the cosmic microwave background radiation in the direction of the galaxy cluster by high-energy electrons in the intracluster gas. The large galaxy at the center is the brightest galaxy in the cluster, and above it a thin, curved gravitational lens arc is visible. This arc is caused by the gravitational forces of the cluster bending the path of light from stars and galaxies behind it, in a similar way to how a glass lens bends light.

Several stars are visible in front of the cluster — recognizable by their diffraction spikes — but aside from these, all other visible objects are distant galaxies. Their light has become redshifted by the expansion of space, making them appear redder than they actually are. By measuring the amount of redshift, we know that it took more than 5 billion years for the light from this galaxy cluster to reach us. The light of the galaxies in the background had to travel even longer than that, making this image an extremely old window into the far reaches of the universe.

This image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) as part of an observing program called RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey). RELICS imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters with the aim of finding the brightest distant galaxies for the forthcoming NASA James Webb Space Telescope to study.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Image, Animation, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, RELICS; Acknowledgement: D. Coe et al./Text: European Space Agency/NASA/Karl Hille.

Best regards,