Health and Biological Research in Zero Gravity: Expedition 70 Team on ISS Amid SpaceX Dragon’s Departure Countdown

by Klaus Müller
ISS Expedition 70

NASA’s Expedition 70 Flight Engineer, Loral O’Hara, is actively engaged in the UMAMI space biology experiment, examining the impact of microgravity on animal-microbe interactions. O’Hara is handling the Advanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) Fluid Processing Cassette (FPC), a key instrument in studying the molecular and chemical dynamics between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts in space. This research is conducted with NASA’s support.

Top Priorities: Crew Health and Space Biology

For the Expedition 70 team onboard the International Space Station (ISS), the focus at the week’s start was on crew health and space biology research. The ISS crew was busy with routine laboratory maintenance, while the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft’s departure was slated for no earlier than Wednesday.

Investigating Weightlessness Effects

A primary concern for NASA and its international counterparts, as they prepare for longer space missions, is understanding how various life forms, including humans, adapt to weightlessness. This research spans from microscopic organisms and space-cultivated vegetables to astronauts, all adapting to microgravity’s challenging conditions.

Astronauts’ Daily Routines

NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli began her day by wearing the Bio-Monitor vest and headband, testing their efficacy in tracking astronauts’ health. These devices record cardiovascular data for the Space Health study. Moghbeli later worked in the Kibo laboratory module’s Life Science Glovebox, treating cell samples for the Space AGE health study, which investigates aging biology and its disease implications.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli also processed bacterial samples in the Kibo module to study microbial growth control in microgravity. This research, part of the Bacteria Adhesion and Corrosion experiment, aims to identify and disinfect microbes that could harm spacecraft systems and crew health.

CubeSat Deployments and Experiments

Two CubeSats were launched from the ISS to explore communication technologies and test future space probe innovations. JAXA Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa photographed this deployment from the Kibo lab and later worked on an optical hardware project supporting regenerative medicine research. Furukawa also prepared for the SAFFIRE-VI fire safety experiment, to be conducted on the Cygnus space freighter post-departure from the ISS.

Routine Operations and Maintenance

Astronauts Loral O’Hara and Andreas Mogensen began their week by organizing spacewalk equipment in the Quest airlock. O’Hara tested a VHF antenna and inspected Harmony module quarters, while Mogensen, from ESA, installed air sensors in Harmony and checked the COLBERT treadmill’s hoses.

ESA astronaut and Expedition 70 Commander Andreas Mogensen also replaced computer components in the Advanced Space Experiment Processor-2 (ADSEP-2), used for diverse biological and physical science experiments.

Other Activities

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Konstantin Borisov focused on a Roscosmos biology study in the Nauka module, examining eggs in a centrifuge. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub dedicated his time to maintaining life support systems in the Zarya and Zvezda modules.

Upcoming Dragon Resupply Mission Departure

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than 5:05 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 20, for the 29th Dragon commercial resupply mission’s undocking from the ISS. Live coverage of the Dragon’s departure will be available on NASA’s streaming services, including NASA Television, YouTube, and the NASA website.

The team is also evaluating additional undocking and return options, considering optimal weather conditions for an autonomous undocking and splashdown off Florida’s coast, particularly as a cold front passes through the area.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about ISS Expedition 70

What is the main focus of NASA’s Expedition 70 on the ISS?

The main focus of NASA’s Expedition 70 on the International Space Station (ISS) is to research crew health and space biology, particularly studying the effects of microgravity on various life forms including humans, beneficial microbes, and their animal hosts.

What are the daily activities of astronauts during Expedition 70?

Astronauts on Expedition 70 engage in a variety of tasks including wearing Bio-Monitor vests to track health metrics, treating cell samples for aging and disease studies, processing bacterial samples for microbial growth research in microgravity, and conducting routine maintenance and experiments in the ISS’s laboratories.

What experiments are being conducted in the ISS’s Kibo laboratory module?

In the Kibo laboratory module, experiments include treating cell samples for the Space AGE health study, which investigates the biology of aging and disease mechanisms, and the Bacteria Adhesion and Corrosion experiment, aimed at understanding microbial growth control in microgravity.

What was the purpose of deploying CubeSats from the ISS during Expedition 70?

The deployment of CubeSats during Expedition 70 aimed to explore communication technologies and test future space probe innovations, including voice and imagery transmissions.

When is the SpaceX Dragon resupply mission scheduled to depart from the ISS?

The SpaceX Dragon’s 29th commercial resupply mission is targeted to undock from the ISS no earlier than 5:05 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 20, with coverage available on NASA’s streaming services.

More about ISS Expedition 70

  • International Space Station Experiments
  • NASA Expedition 70 Overview
  • Microgravity Research on ISS
  • NASA Bio-Monitor Project
  • Space AGE Health Study
  • Bacteria Adhesion and Corrosion Experiment
  • CubeSat Deployment Missions
  • SpaceX Dragon Resupply Information
  • JAXA Space Research Programs
  • ESA’s Role in ISS Expeditions

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AstroJenny December 19, 2023 - 9:19 am

great read but i think there’s a typo in the part about CubeSats, should be ‘deployed’ not ‘deployments’ right?

RocketManRick December 19, 2023 - 9:28 am

im impressed with the level of detail here, NASA’s work never ceases to amaze me, kudos to the astronauts for their hard work!

CosmosCarl December 19, 2023 - 1:03 pm

Dragon’s resupply missions are always exciting, but I think the article could use more details on what supplies are being sent up and back.

GravityGuru December 19, 2023 - 2:34 pm

so cool to see how microgravity affects living organisms, but why aren’t there more experiments on plants or fungi? seems like a missed opportunity.

SpaceFan99 December 19, 2023 - 5:14 pm

wow, this is really cool stuff! I never knew how much research goes on in the ISS, it’s like a floating science lab up there.

SciFiSue December 19, 2023 - 8:34 pm

i’m a bit confused about the part with the Bio-Monitor vest, how does it exactly monitor the health of astronauts, can someone explain more?

TechTalkTim December 19, 2023 - 11:33 pm

this article needs more info on the tech behind these experiments, like how does the ADSEP work? would love to know more about the science gear.


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