ISS – Expedition 55 Mission patch.
March 12, 2018
The crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy with scientific operations this week as their on-ground counterparts completed final preparations for their upcoming launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, will join Anton Shkaplerov of Roscomos, Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency aboard the orbiting laboratory following their March 21 launch.
Take a look at some of the science that happened this week aboard the station:
Bubble Detectors released into station for radiation detection
The RaDI-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2) measures neutron radiation levels aboard the orbiting laboratory using Space Bubble Detectors. Results from this investigation may provide a better understanding of the connections between neutron radiation and DNA damage and mutation rates, symptoms that affect some astronauts, and other radiation health issues.
Animation above: Another batch of plants is growing aboard the space station. Arabidopsis and Dwarf Wheat are currently growing inside the new Advanced Plant Habitat. APH provides a laboratory for the comprehensive study of plant metabolism, transcription, protein production and much more. Animation Credit: NASA.
This week, crew members deployed eight Space Bubble Detectors, designed to detect neutrons and ignore all other forms of radiation.
Crew enjoys space-grown veggies
Future long-duration missions into the solar system will require a fresh food supply to supplement crew diets, which means growing crops in space. The Veg-03 investigation expands on previous validation tests of the new Veggie hardware, which crew members will soon use to grow cabbage, lettuce and other fresh vegetables in space.
Our space gardeners were busy this week as they watered, pruned, and photographed the plants, which are growing in special plant pillows. Finally, the crew enjoyed the first harvest of Mizuna and red romaine lettuce from the VEG-03 investigation.
Image above: NASA astronaut Scott Tingle waters the crops as a part of the Veg-03 investigation. Image Credit: NASA.
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.
Image above: NASA astronaut Scott Tingle harvested mizuna and red romaine lettuce as a part of the Veg-03 investigation. Portions of the harvest were consumed by crew members. Image Credit: NASA.
Crew’s airway tested for Nitric Oxide
With dust particles present in the space station atmosphere, Airway Monitoring studies the occurrence and indicators of airway inflammation in crewmembers, using ultra-sensitive gas analyzers to analyze exhaled air. This helps to highlight any health impacts and to maintain crewmember well-being on future human spaceflight missions, especially longer-duration missions to the Moon and Mars for example, where crewmembers will have to be more self-sufficient in highlighting and avoiding such conditions. This kind of research may also benefit similar conditions, such as asthma, on Earth.
This week, crewmembers performed two different measurement protocols; the low Nitric Oxide (NO) protocol which determines how much NO is exhaled with the respiration, and the high NO protocol, which determines how much NO is diffused into the blood.
Crew prepares for next week’s ACME operations
The Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME) investigation is a set of studies of gaseous flames to be conducted in the Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), one of which being Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames).
In E-FIELD Flames, an electric field with voltages as high as 10,000 volts is established between the burner and a mesh electrode. The motion of the charged ions, which are naturally produced within the flame, are strongly affected by a high-voltage electric field. The resulting ion-driven wind can dramatically influence the stability and sooting behavior of the flame. Measurements are made of electric-field strength, the ion current passing through the flame, and flame characteristics such as the size, structure, temperature, soot, and stability. Conducting the tests in microgravity enables new understanding and the development of less polluting and more efficient combustion technology for use on Earth.
This week, in preparation for the first E-FIELD Flames operations next week, the crew replaced the compensator module and reconfigured the ACME within the CIR.
Other work was done on these investigations: Crew Earth Observations, EMCS, MagVector, Space Headaches, Wisenet, Transparent Alloys, DOSIS-3D, EIISS, VESSEL ID, Plant Gravity Perception, Lighting Effects, AstroPi, ELF, Meteor, Two Phase Flow, Tropical Cyclone, and Plant Habitat.
RaDI-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=874
Space Bubble Detectors: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/sciences/osm/detector.asp
Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1651
Combustion Integration Rack (CIR): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=317
Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2058
Crew Earth Observations: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=84
Transparent Alloys: https://www.eusoc.upm.es/transparent-alloys/
Plant Gravity Perception: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2019
Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html
International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Erling Holm/Yuri Guinart-Ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.
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