Astronauts on Space Station Explore Artificial Intelligence and Human Nervous System

Cygnus Space Freighter in the Grips of the Canadarm2 Robotic Arm

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is positioned away from the International Space Station in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm prior to its release ending a four-month stay attached to the orbiting lab’s Unity module. Credit: NASA

On Tuesday, July 5, space physics and human studies dominated the science agenda aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 67 crew also reconfigured a US airlock and put a new 3D printer through its paces.

The lack of gravity in space impacts a wide range of physics revealing new phenomena that researchers are studying to improve life for humans on and off the Earth. One such project uses artificial intelligence to adapt complicated glass manufacturing processes in microgravity with the goal of benefitting numerous Earth- and space-based industries. On Tuesday afternoon, NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren set up hardware for the Intelligent Glass Optics experiment for operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Observations from the investigation may advance professions such as communications, aerospace, medicine, and astronomy.

Milky Way Extends Above Earth’s Horizon

This long-exposure photograph was taken during an orbital night period from the International Space Station 271 miles (436 km) above the Indian Ocean. The Milky Way extends above the airglow blanketing the Earth’s horizon with an aurora near the bottom right of the frame. Credit: NASA

Lindgren also joined his fellow flight engineers Jessica Watkins of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) in reconfiguring the NanoRacks Bishop airlock on Tuesday. The trio of astronauts worked throughout the day reinstalling hardware and stowing cargo inside Bishop following its trash disposal and robotic maneuvers over the weekend. Ground controllers commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the airlock from the Tranquility module to jettison a trash container on Saturday. The Canadarm2 then moved Bishop back to Tranquility where it was reattached shortly afterward.

Watkins started her day partnering with NASA Flight Engineer Bob Hines for an investigation that explores how weightlessness affects dexterous manipulation. The duo took turns seated in a unique apparatus inside the Columbus laboratory module to help scientists understand how astronauts grip and manipulate objects in space. Insights may inform the design of intelligent spacecraft interfaces and provide a deeper understanding of the human nervous system.

The two flight engineers from Roscosmos, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, collected microbe samples from modules in the station’s Russian segment for analysis on Tuesday. Matveev also documented his meals and drinks for a study exploring space-caused bone loss. Station Commander Oleg Artemyev installed and tested a new 3-D printer inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

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