Tuesday nights successful resupply launch to the International Space Station carried replacement materials for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Bio-Monitor wearables science investigation.
According to the CSA the “Space Health studies the effects of space flight on astronauts’ cardiovascular systems. Vascular Calcium, as part of NASA’s CIPHER program, aims to determine whether one year in space increases the arterial stiffness and insulin resistance that is already observed in six-month space flights.”
Other new research highlighted by NASA headed to the ISS include:
Better Water for Explorers – A water system launched in fall 2008 provides water for crew consumption and food preparation on the space station. A new system, Exploration Potable Water Dispenser (PWD), uses advanced water sanitization and microbial growth reduction methods and dispenses hot water.
The team can take Exploration PWD in and out of dormancy, an ability that is key to its use on future exploration missions. Katherine Toon, an Environmental and Consumable Life Support Systems integration manager, points out that the Exploration PWD system also has data collection, telemetry, and self-monitoring abilities, features that provide engineers direct insight into how the unit is behaving. It also can be commanded from the ground. After successful demonstration, this technology could be used on future exploration missions and on the space station.
Testing Gene Therapy for Neurons – Neuronix, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, demonstrates the formation of 3D neuron cell cultures in microgravity and tests a neuron-specific gene therapy. Gene therapy shows promise as a potential treatment for people with paralysis and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but the 3D models needed to test these therapies cannot be grown in Earth’s gravity. Creating 3D cell cultures in microgravity could provide a platform for drug discovery and gene therapy testing.
Final Fire Experiment Upon Departure – Understanding how fire behaves in space is vital for developing fire prevention and fire suppression methods, but flame-related experiments are difficult to conduct aboard an occupied spacecraft. The Spacecraft Fire Experiments (Saffire) use the Cygnus resupply craft after it leaves the space station to remove the risk to crew and spacecraft. Saffire-VI is the last of this series, building on previous results to test flammability at different oxygen levels and to demonstrate fire detection and monitoring as well as post-fire cleanup capabilities.
Measuring Atmospheric Density – The Multi Needle Langmuir Probe (m-NLP), an investigation from ESA (European Space Agency), monitors plasma densities in the ionosphere – where Earth’s atmosphere meets space. The space station is an ideal platform for the instrument since it orbits near the peak plasma density of the ionosphere.
High-flying Art – For I-Space Essay, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is sending a memory card that contains digital works created by students, such as pictures and poetry, to the space station. More than 13,000 students from 74 schools created digital works for the project. JAXA plans to issue a certificate to participating schools after the flight and participation could inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers.