Space Station Crew Kicks Off Week With Bone Research and Physics Studies

ISS Over Namibia

The space station’s solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia. Credit: NASA

Space medicine was the top research priority aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday as four Expedition 68 astronauts explored healing bone conditions. The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts spent the day studying a variety of physics, packing a resupply ship, and servicing station hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio joined Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for an all-day bone research session in the Kibo laboratory module. The quartet worked in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox servicing research samples for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study.

Living in microgravity may affect skeletal stem cells and bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair. Researchers are studying a bone graft adhesive on the space station with the potential to reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Results may also benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis. The astronauts will stay focused on the bone research activities through Wednesday.

Two cosmonauts worked on several different space physics experiments throughout Monday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev explored the behavior of clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, in a specialized chamber. Observations may lead to improved spacecraft designs, as well as a better understanding of plasmas on Earth. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity.

The cosmonauts also worked on cargo activities and lab maintenance. Prokopyev stowed items for disposal inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft ahead of its departure in February. Petelin removed navigation hardware from the inside the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship and then photographed the internal area of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to assess its potential stowage volume. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day servicing life support and electronics systems.

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