Space Biology and Manufacturing for Extended Space Missions: A Focus on Astronaut Well-being and Experimentation

by François Dupont
Space Expedition Research

Illuminated cityscapes of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Helsinki form a backdrop against an aurora in a photograph taken from the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting at a height of 264 miles. This image is courtesy of NASA.

The crew of Expedition 70, on the ISS, had a busy day on Tuesday, November 21, attending to astronaut health, an aging study, and managing cargo. They engaged in research related to space manufacturing and collected data on radiation.

Scientific Studies and Experiments

NASA, along with its global partners, is gathering extensive physiological and psychological data from astronauts residing on the ISS. The CIPHER project, comprising 14 human research experiments, aims to understand health challenges that astronauts might encounter on future space missions. This research is crucial as crews plan to embark on longer journeys to destinations like the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer, Loral O’Hara, was seen working with brain cell-like samples in the ISS’s Kibo laboratory module’s Life Science Glovebox. She was part of the Cerebral Ageing space biology research, studying the degenerative processes in brain cells. Findings from this study could provide valuable insights into the accelerated aging symptoms observed in space and help understand neurodegenerative diseases on Earth. This research has been credited to NASA.

O’Hara dedicated her Tuesday to the CIPHER study, handling blood and urine samples, and undergoing a cognition test. She used a centrifuge for sample processing and stored them in a scientific freezer for subsequent analysis. These activities are vital for preparing medical staff and astronauts for challenges such as prolonged radiation exposure, isolation, extreme distances, and living in enclosed spaces.

Research on aging is significant on the ISS, focusing on the impact of microgravity on brain cell-like samples. NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli was involved in treating these samples in the Kibo laboratory’s Life Science Glovebox. The Cerebral Ageing research could unveil unique insights into accelerated aging symptoms, neurodegenerative diseases, and sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation at the molecular level, potentially leading to advanced medical treatments on Earth and in space.

In another space biology experiment, NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli was involved in the Cell Gravisensing research in the ISS’s Kibo laboratory module. This study is examining how cells perceive gravity, which could lead to better treatments for conditions like muscle atrophy and osteoporosis, both on Earth and in space. NASA has been credited for this research.

Mental Health and Cargo Operations

Maintaining high morale is crucial for the success of long-duration space missions. One hypothesis under investigation is that virtual reality (VR) experiences on a spacecraft might reduce stress and enhance mental relaxation. ESA Commander Andreas Mogensen participated in the VR Mental Care study, using VR goggles and a controller, and watching a 360-degree movie to assess its effect on the nervous system.

Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) worked in the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew spacecraft, focusing on orbital plumbing, assisted by Mogensen. Meanwhile, Moghbeli managed cargo transfers in the Dragon cargo spacecraft, and O’Hara documented some of the newly arrived equipment.

Space Manufacturing and Radiation Data Analysis

3D printing technology is vital for future space missions, enabling crews to be less reliant on Earth-launched cargo missions. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko conducted 3D printing tests to learn how to create tools and supplies in microgravity. Kononenko, a five-time station resident, also participated in a Roscosmos experiment, attaching sensors to monitor his cardiac activity.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov assisted Kononenko with the cardiac sensors, managed camera hardware, and downloaded monthly radiation detection data. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub studied the effects of spaceflight conditions, like spacecraft vibrations, electric fields, and magnetic fields, on fluid systems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Space Expedition Research

What was the primary focus of Expedition 70’s crew aboard the International Space Station?

The crew focused on astronaut health, an aging study, cargo operations, space manufacturing, and collecting radiation data.

How are the Expedition 70 crew contributing to future space missions?

The crew is conducting a range of experiments, including the CIPHER suite of 14 human research experiments, to understand health challenges astronauts might face on longer space missions.

What kind of research is NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara involved in?

Loral O’Hara is involved in the Cerebral Ageing space biology study, examining the degenerative processes in brain cells to provide insights into accelerated aging in space and neurodegenerative diseases on Earth.

What does the Cell Gravisensing experiment explore?

This experiment investigates how cells sense gravity, which could lead to better treatments for conditions such as muscle atrophy and osteoporosis on Earth and in space.

How is 3D printing technology being tested on the ISS?

Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko is conducting tests with a 3D printer to understand how to manufacture tools and supplies in microgravity, which is crucial for longer space missions.

More about Space Expedition Research

  • International Space Station
  • NASA Human Research Program
  • Cerebral Ageing Study in Space
  • Cell Gravisensing Experiment
  • 3D Printing in Microgravity
  • Roscosmos Space Research

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AstroLover November 22, 2023 - 2:35 pm

Its amazing how much research they can do in space, the cerebral ageing study sounds fascinating, can’t wait to hear more about it.

TechGeek November 23, 2023 - 2:26 am

3d printing in space? that’s the future right there, imagine making whatever you need on a long space mission, the possibilities are endless!

CuriousMind November 23, 2023 - 2:38 am

I’m curious about how VR could help with mental health in space, its a tough environment up there, good to know they’re looking into it.

SpaceFan99 November 23, 2023 - 9:49 am

wow this is so cool, i always wondered what they do up there in the space station, its like a whole new world up there!


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