ISS Expedition 70: A Fusion of Robotics, Aging Research, and Atmospheric Studies

Airglow Hovering in Earth’s Atmosphere

This image taken from the International Space Station shows swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 70 team on the ISS is busy with scientific research, including aging studies, atmospheric experiments, and microgravity cell analysis, along with ISS maintenance, following SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft arrival.

Another busy day of science activities is underway for the Expedition 70 crew and robotics ground controllers following the arrival of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft last weekend. The seven members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) spent time on an array of research today while grounds teams remotely retrieved science hardware from Dragon.

Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara started work in the morning on an experiment that studies age-related liver dysfunction and regeneration. The first-time station resident of NASA processed liver tissue samples in the Life Sciences Glovebox, research that could help scientists understand the biology of aging and its effects on disease mechanisms. Later in the day, Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA took over this work before stowing the samples.

Expedition 70 Astronauts Pose for a Portrait Inside Their Crew Quarters

Four Expedition 70 crew members pose for a fun portrait inside their crew quarters aboard the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Clockwise from bottom are, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli; ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen; JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa; and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara. Credit: NASA

After yesterday’s ILLUMA-T extraction, mission controllers from the U.S. spent another day on robotics activities to retrieve more science hardware delivered inside Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. Remotely controlling the Canadarm2 robotic arm, engineers extracted the new Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) payload to mount it to the exterior of the orbiting laboratory. From its perch, AWE will track small-scale atmospheric gravity waves in our home planet’s upper atmosphere to investigate how they contribute to space weather, which affects space- and ground-based comms, navigation, and tracking systems.

While ground teams worked remotely outside the station, research experiments continued for other residents aboard. Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) spent the majority of his day deploying six antimicrobial placards for a four-month investigation that will test a coating to inhibit microbial growth on several surfaces aboard the orbiting laboratory.

JAXA Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa Removes Experiment Hardware

Expedition 70 Flight Engineer and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa removes experiment hardware from inside the Multi-use Variable-g Platform, a biology research device that can generate artificial gravity inside the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module. Credit: NASA

Meanwhile, after yesterday’s start on treating cell samples inside the Kibo laboratory, astronaut Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) continued this work for the Cell Gravisensing-2 study. Using a microscope, he observed additional samples to help researchers learn how lack of gravity affects cell response.

The trio of cosmonauts kept busy with their own scientific research and maintenance activities. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov worked on an ongoing investigation that observes Earth’s nighttime atmosphere in near-ultraviolet and photographed the Zarya and Nauka modules to assist in future planning of repairs and science equipment placement. Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko inspected hardware in Nauka, while Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub completed some orbital plumbing and investigated the processes of liquid phases in microgravity.

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