ISS Activity Surge: Ultraviolet Earth Glows, Sleep Science, Microbial Research, and Crew Handovers

Glow of Earth’s Atmosphere From Space Station

Earth’s atmosphere glows as the International Space Station soared roughly 260 miles above Egypt. Credit: NASA

Ten orbital residents had a full schedule on Wednesday, September 20, attending to a mix of tasks including eye exams, station maintenance, and training. While new members of the Expedition 69 crew familiarize themselves with hardware and equipment, others are completing more prep work ahead of their departure from the International Space Station next week.

Sleep Studies and Spacewalk Preparations

After wearing the Sleep in Orbit hardware overnight, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen started his day filling out a questionnaire that helps researchers gain insight into astronauts’ sleep in space and compare that data to sleep on Earth. Midmorning, he was joined by NASA astronauts and first-time station residents, Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, to make adjustments to their spacesuits that will be used on future spacewalks.

Mount Baker From International Space Station

Mount Baker reaches over 10,700 feet of elevation in the state of Washington. The active glacier-covered stratovolcano was seen from the International Space Station as it orbited 265 miles above. Credit: NASA

Medical Exams and Microbial Research

After lunch, Mogensensen and Moghbeli were joined by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa to conduct ultrasound eye exams. Furukawa spent most of his morning collecting surface samples for microbial analysis ahead of the exam. Afterward, he moved on to collecting air samples to continue the microbial research.

Preparations for Departure

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio spent Wednesday gearing up for his trek home to Earth next week following a record-breaking mission. He spent part of his day working in the Japanese Experiment Module conducting maintenance before moving on to departure prep, including crew handover activities and prepping items that will return home with the crew on the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft.

Space Station Orbits Above Queensland, Australia

The Soyuz MS-23 crew ship is pictured docked to the Prichal docking module as the International Space Station orbited 264 miles above Queensland, Australia, near the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria on May 11, 2023. Credit: NASA

Rubio, as well as Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, launched to the space station on September 21, 2022, and will undock on September 27 after spending over one year in space. The two cosmonauts joined Rubio in crew handover and departure prep activities today as they prepared for a change in command and continued to train the newly arrived crew.

Orientation and Nighttime Atmospheric Study

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, who arrived at the orbital outpost last Friday along with O’Hara, completed crew orientation early on in the day. In the evening, the two were joined by Mogensen, O’Hara, and Prokopyev to familiarize themselves with hardware and equipment throughout various station modules.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos spent most of the day conducting an experiment that studies the glow of Earth’s atmosphere at night in near ultraviolet.

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