Crew Wraps Up Week With Space Biology and Physics Research

Crew Wraps Up Week With Space Biology and Physics Research

The Expedition 62 mission patch floats inside the seven-window cupola
The Expedition 62 mission patch floats inside the seven-window cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.” The orbiting complex was flying 265 miles above Russia near the Caspian Sea at the time this photograph was taken.

The Expedition 62 crew wrapped up the workweek with more bone studies and human research activities. Meanwhile, a U.S. cargo craft is one week away from launching to resupply the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan split their day between a pair of investigations exploring how the human physiology is impacted by long-term weightlessness.

The pair started Friday with ultrasound scans of the upper chest area followed by eye and head pressure checks. The biomedical exams are part of the Fluid Shifts study that seeks to understand and control the upward flow of body fluids in microgravity that affects astronauts. Results could inform preventative measures that keep crews healthy on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Morgan then set up a 3D video camera in the afternoon to film Meir as she serviced bone cell samples for the OsteoOmics-02 experiment. The study is observing these cells for accelerated bone loss caused by microgravity. Doctors are pursuing the new knowledge to gain therapeutic insights into ground-based ailments such as osteoporosis. The virtual reality film is being recorded to provide cinematic, immersive experiences for audiences back on Earth.

Space physics continued in the Russian segment of the space station as Commander Oleg Skripochka studied the formation of plasma crystals. The experiment provides fundamental knowledge about the physics of microgravity potentially influencing advanced research activities and future spacecraft designs.

Meanwhile, processing continues at the Kennedy Space Center as SpaceX readies its Dragon resupply ship to launch atop the Falcon 9 rocket on March 6 at 11:49 p.m. EST. Dragon will arrive March 9 at the station packed with new science gear to study a wide variety of space phenomena. The experiments will be looking at how to grow food in space, develop nano-materials and increase fuel efficiency.

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Mark Garcia

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Human Research, Mouse Preps Ahead of Dragon Cargo Mission

Human Research, Mouse Preps Ahead of Dragon Cargo Mission

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan conducts research operations
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan conducts research operations inside the Life Sciences Glovebox for the OsteoOmics-02 bone experiment.

The Expedition 62 crew is running a host of human research and space biology studies today aboard the International Space Station. The orbiting lab is also ramping up for new science being delivered on an upcoming U.S. cargo mission.

A crewmember’s bones and flow of body fluids are affected by the weightless environment of space. Besides daily exercise and diet, scientists are exploring ways to offset the detrimental effects and ensure long-term mission health and success. Insights from the ongoing experiments may also prove beneficial to humans on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir worked on the OsteoOmics-02 bone research hardware that has been in operation all week and serviced science freezers where biological samples are stowed. She also installed a carbon dioxide controller on an incubator that houses a variety of lifeforms such as microbes, animal cells and tissue cultures.

A common condition caused by living in space is called “puffy face.” A crewmember’s face becomes redder and rounder due to body fluids rising up as a symptom of weightlessness. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan set up gear that measures the head pressure caused by this upward flow that has also been known to affect vision.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is due to blast off toward the station on March 6 at 11:49 p.m. EST. It will arrive March 9 carrying about 5,600 pounds of cargo including live mice. Morgan installed hardware today that will house the rodents for the Mouse Habitat Unit-5 investigation from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). He prepared the habitat specifically designed for the study and will attach it later to the upgraded Cell Biology Experiment Facility.

Commander Oleg Skripochka continued studying the physics of dust particles creating plasma crystals. The veteran cosmonaut also worked on orbital plumbing tasks before wrapping up a session that recorded his heart rate and blood pressure for 24 hours.

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Mark Garcia

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Space Biology on Station Benefits Humans on Earth and in Space

Space Biology on Station Benefits Humans on Earth and in Space

The Expedition 62 crew poses for a playful portrait
From top to bottom, NASA Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Roscosmos Commander Oleg Skripochka pose for a playful portrait.

The three-member Expedition 62 crew split its time today between biomedical studies and space physics. The microgravity research aboard the International Space Station helps scientists, doctors and engineers provide unique solutions that could improve life for humans on Earth and in space.

Astronauts living in space experience a condition that mimics osteoporosis on Earth. The lack of gravity quickly weakens a crewmember’s bones unless they counteract it with daily exercise and proper nutrition. This is one of many challenges NASA faces as it plans to send humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan this week are helping doctors to compare bone cells in space with samples on Earth that are levitated magnetically. The observations from the OsteoOmics-02 study could provide deeper insights into bone ailments on Earth, including osteoporosis.

Meir also serviced a 3D bioprinter today replacing components inside the device that manufactures complex organ structures aboard the orbiting lab. She later joined Morgan for more eye checks this week using optical coherence tomography in the station’s Harmony module.

On the Russian side of the orbiting complex, station Commander Oleg Skripochka continued exploring plasma physics. The veteran cosmonaut set up a device that traps clouds of particles creating plasma crystals and observes their dynamics. At the end of the day, he swapped out a lens on an Earth observation camera controlled by students on Earth.

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Mark Garcia

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Dragon Launch Set for March 6, Station Bone Research Benefits Earth

Dragon Launch Set for March 6, Station Bone Research Benefits Earth

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches Dec. 5, 2019, atop the Falcon 9 rocket on its last mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX has announced March 6 for the launch of its 20th contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station. Its Dragon resupply ship will arrive March 9 with over 5,600 pounds of science hardware, research samples and supplies to the Expedition 62 crew.

Meanwhile, NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan are tending to a new experiment, which was delivered early last week aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft. The astronauts are exploring the differences between bone cells exposed to microgravity versus samples magnetically levitated on Earth.

Doctors will use the comparisons to gain a deeper understanding of bone diseases. Space-caused bone loss is similar to the symptoms of Earth-bound conditions such as osteoporosis. Astronauts exercise daily keeping track of their diet to counteract the effects of microgravity and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

Meir and Morgan continue to unpack the over three tons of cargo shipped aboard Cygnus one week ago. The duo transferred powered payloads including science freezers containing research samples and tanks filled with nitrogen and oxygen to replenish the station’s atmosphere.

Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos was back on space physics research this morning observing the behavior of heavily charged particles, or plasma crystals. The three-time station resident also serviced life support gear before collecting measurements from Russian radiation detectors.

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Mark Garcia

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Human Research, Earth Studies Start the Work Week

Human Research, Earth Studies Start the Work Week

Expedition 62 crewmates Oleg Skripochka, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan
Expedition 62 Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka poses with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan perched on his shoulders in the weightless environment of the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module.

The Expedition 62 crew spent Monday on a variety of human research activities while also exploring Earth from the vantage point of the International Space Station.

NASA is studying how astronauts’ bodies adapt to living and working in space as mission managers plan longer human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The long-running Fluid Shifts investigation is observing the impact of pressure on the brain and eyes due to the upward flow of body fluids caused by weightlessness.

Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan spent Monday morning collecting their blood, saliva and urine samples for the biomedical study. They spun the samples in a centrifuge before stowing them in a science freezer for analysis on Earth.

The duo then split up as Meir serviced cell samples for a bone study, while Morgan checked on samples being observed for a bio-fuel experiment. They got back together at the end of the day for eye exams as part of the Ocular Health study.

Station Commander Oleg Skripochka, a veteran of two prior station missions, juggled a wide array of space research. He first studied heavily charged particles, or plasma crystals, before setting up Earth observation gear to be remotely controlled by students on the ground. Next, Skripochka split his time on a pair of Earth studies seeking ways to monitor conditions and forecast natural and man-made disasters.

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Mark Garcia

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