Gravity-Defying Research: Cosmic Coatings and Light-Speed Fibers on the Space Station

Portions of the Space Station Pictured Above the Pacific Ocean

A set of the International Space Station’s main solar arrays, slightly obscuring the smaller roll-out solar arrays, and the Kibo laboratory module with its exposed facility, a research platform that hosts external experiments, are pictured 261 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA

A week of science and station upkeep continued on Friday aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Ahead of their off-duty weekend, the seven Expedition 70 crew members completed an array of tasks to wrap up maintenance activities and resume microgravity research investigations.

On Tuesday, NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli kicked off a multi-day-long study investigating the efficiency of an antimicrobial coating in space. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa took over this work on Friday, continuing the investigation to help researchers better understand how the coating holds up over time.

Four Expedition 70 Crewmates Christmas Eve Portrait

Four Expedition 70 crewmates join each other inside the International Space Station’s Unity module for Christmas Eve festivities. From left are, NASA Flight Engineers Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara; Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency); and Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency). Credit: NASA

Furukawa and Moghbeli then teamed up to inspect and change out cartridges in masks that are used in the unlikely event an emergency were to occur on station. Later on, Furukawa transferred data collected earlier this week during his and NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara’s acoustic monitoring sessions. At the end of the day, O’Hara configured the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) for an ongoing fiber optics investigation.

Station Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) spent Friday wrapping up tasks conducted earlier this week—stowing spacesuit hardware and charging the VR Mental Care battery. In the evening, Mogensen performed a VR for Exercise session, which focuses on the use of a virtual reality environment for biking aboard the orbiting laboratory. Not only does this mitigate bone and muscle loss that occurs in low-Earth orbit, but can increase motivation for daily exercise and boost morale.

Australia’s Norman River Leads Into Gulf of Carpentaria

Australia’s Norman River leads into the Gulf of Carpentaria in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 262 miles above the province of Queensland. Credit: NASA

The Roscosmos trio split up their duties Friday, carrying out ongoing tasks from the week. Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko removed and replaced hardware in the Zvezda service module, while Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub completed some orbital plumbing. Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov performed an experiment that studies the glow of Earth’s nighttime atmosphere in near-ultraviolet.

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