NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status Report 13 January, 2022 - Studying Long-Term Visual Function in Space

©NASA

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei gets his eyes checked. (May 12, 2021)

Living long-term in microgravity affects every aspect of the human body and the eyes are no exception.

A study recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and under way today at the orbital lab is exploring how visual function is impacted by extended space missions. Three NASA astronauts, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron were on duty throughout the day contributing to the investigation that may protect astronaut's vision and improve eye treatments on Earth.

Marshburn first started his day in the Tranquility module strengthening cables on the advanced resistive exercise device. Chari, toward the end of his work shift, cleaned the Veggie space botany facility before uninstalling and packing a spacecraft atmosphere monitor for return to the ground.

Microbe collections continued for the third day this week as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer swabbed station surfaces and stowed the samples for later analysis. The German astronaut also serviced the Mochii electron-scanning microscope, set up a computer for Earth observations, and worked on the Cytoskeleton human cell experiment.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei was on duty Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module conducting life support maintenance. The three-time station visitor worked on the fluid servicer system that removes gas bubbles and cleans fluid lines throughout the orbital lab.

Vande Hei also joined cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov helping the Russian duo install lights, batteries and video gear on their Orlan spacesuit helmets. The pair started the day with a physical fitness test to prepare for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. They will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space configuring both the Prichal and Nauka modules.

On-Orbit Status Report

Payloads:

AstroPi: After moving an AstroPi from Columbus to a Node 2 window, the focus and aperture were adjusted for the 5mm camera lens. This was performed during ISS orbital day to make sure the camera was viewing the Earth. Two augmented Raspberry Pi computers (called AstroPis) were originally flown to the ISS as part of ESA Astronaut Tim Peake's mission. The computers are both equipped with the mighty Sense HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) that measures the environment inside the space station, detects how the station moves through space, and picks up the Earth's magnetic field. Each AstroPi is also equipped with different kinds of cameras: one has an infrared camera, and the other has a standard visible spectrum camera.

Cytoskeleton: Two Experiment Containers (ECs) were removed from Biolab and transferred to cold stowage. In vitro cultures of mammalian cells react specifically to microgravity, but there is no solid scientific evidence available about how and why. The Involvement of Rho family GTPases in gravity perception and reaction (Cytoskeleton) investigation attempts to acquire new information about the events that are happening inside a mammalian cell, with the working hypothesis that the microgravity environment affects the function of RhoGTPases and the cellular signaling that they control. RhoGTPases are signaling molecules residing under the Rho family of proteins, known to be involved as "molecular switches", in the control of cell proliferation, apoptosis (programmed cell death), gene expression (flow of genetic information from gene to protein), and cytoskeletal organization.

Food Physiology: Several crewmembers participated in a diet briefing with the science team. The Integrated Impact of Diet on Human Immune Response, the Gut Microbiota, and Nutritional Status During Adaptation to Spaceflight (Food Physiology) experiment is designed to characterize the key effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome, and nutritional status indicators. These factors are interlinked, but diet is the only one that can be easily and meaningfully altered on Earth or during flight. This investigation aims to document the effect of dietary improvements on human physiology and the ability of those improvements to enhance adaptation to spaceflight.

Mochii: In a continuation of the Mochii checkout activities started earlier this week, sample four and a metal coater were loaded into the Mochii hardware. Mochii is a miniature scanning electron microscope (SEM) with spectroscopy which will be used to conduct real-time, on-site imaging and compositional measurements of particles on the ISS. Such particles can cause vehicle and equipment malfunctions and threaten crew health, but currently, samples must be returned to Earth for analysis, leaving crew and vehicle at risk. Mochii also provides a powerful new analysis platform to support novel microgravity science and engineering.

Nanoracks Main Frame Alpha (MFA): The crew retrieved NanoRacks Module-96 from cold stowage and inserted it into MFA. Module-96 is a 1.5U (10cm x 10cm x 15cm) experiment module which studies the antibiotic resistance of biofilm microorganisms commonly found in the spaceflight environment. Nanoracks Mainframe Alpha is an EXPRESS Rack sub-facility designed to provide thermal control, power, and data management to individual Nanoracks Module experiments. The modules themselves are designed to a very limited and specific form factor that fits inside Mainframe Alpha, so Mainframe Alpha supports a wide variety of science that can change on each mission.

Rhodium Probiotics: The crew transferred one of the Rhodium science chambers from on-board ambient stowage to cold stowage. Each of the science chambers houses nine cryotubes containing experiment cultures. Swinburne Youth Space Innovation Challenge 2021: Microgravity Production of a Probiotic Yoghurt Using Active Bacterial Cultures (Rhodium Probiotic Challenge) tests methods for producing yoghurt in space. Yoghurts and other probiotic foods, important components of a healthy diet, depend on living microbial cultures that could experience changes in microgravity. Results could help support the health of crew members on future space missions and improve production of yoghurt on Earth.

Rodent Research-18 (RR-18): In a continuation of the RR-18 experiment, the habitats were restocked and the access unit was cleaned. Astronauts returning from space can experience eye problems, along with headaches and blurred vision. Scientists suspect environmental conditions during spaceflight lead to oxidative stress that adversely affects the eye structure and function. Space Flight Environment Induces Remodeling of Vascular Network and Glia-vascular Communication in Mouse Retina (Rodent Research-18) investigates how spaceflight affects visual function, examining changes in the vascular system of the retina, tissue remodeling and cell-cell interactions in mice.

Systems:

Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Straighten Upper Stop Cable: To help the crew maintain muscle mass, ARED provides resistance training with piston-driven vacuum cylinders and a flywheel system. This week, the team observed that the upper stop cable was out of alignment, and today, the crew was able to make the necessary adjustments for the equipment to function nominally.

Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Setup and Refill of the Lab Low Temperature Loop (LTL) Pump Package Assembly (PPA) accumulator: Today, the crew used the FSS to refill the Lab LTL PPA accumulator with coolant in accordance with regular maintenance operations for proper rack cooling. After FSS operations were complete, the FSS Fluid Control Pump Assembly (FCPA) and Jumpers were drained and purged.

Russian Segment (RS) Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) #51 Preparations: With RS EVA #51 scheduled for Wednesday, January 19th, Mark assisted with installing helmet lights, a Li-Ion Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (LREBA), an HD EMU Camera Assembly (HECA) power cable, and other hardware onto the Russian ORLAN EVA suits. The crew will continue to help with preparations for the upcoming RS EVA into next week.

Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain: As part of normal operations, the crew connected the drain of the installed Recycle Tank to a Brine EDV container using the Brine Transfer Hose. The ground then controlled the drain process remotely using the Urine Transfer System (UTS). The brine in the filled EDV will be pumped into the Brine Processor Assembly (BPA) within the next few days. Once this is completed, the crew will reconfigure the Recycle Tank for daily operations.

Completed Task List Activities:

Countermeasures System (CMS) Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization (CEVIS) Time Update

Today's Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Refill Support
Payload Rack Officer (PRO) PL MDM File Commanding
Video Distribution Subsystem (VDS) External High Definition Camera (EHDC) survey of SpX-24 before undock
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, January 14 (GMT 14)
Payloads:

Advanced Nanostep insert
APEX-07 hardware deact
EasyMotion/CEVIS
ExHAM HXP (Handhold Experiment Platform) sample detach and stow
Mochii
MT-3 sample collect
POLAR transfer
SAMS Wired sensor deployment for 4BCO2
SQuARE setup
Systems:

Cargo Dragon Transfer
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows (WinSCAT) Test
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Full Fill
Lab Low Temperature Loop (LTL) Gas Trap Plug Replacement
Saturday, January 15 (GMT 15)
Payloads:

HRF urine setup
POLAR4 desiccant swap
Rhodium Probiotic
SQuARE
Systems:

Crew off-duty
Sunday, January 16 (GMT 16)
Payloads:

HRF blood/saliva setup, urine collection
SQuARE
Systems:

Crew off-duty
Today's Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

ARED Straighten Upper Stop Cable
Mochii Metal Coating
Portable CO2 Monitor Power On and Deploy
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Microbial Tracking-3 Environmental Sample Collection
ARED Upper Stop Cable Tension Cap Align
Treadmill 2 (T2) Exercise Video Equipment Setup
Microbial Tracking-3 Sample MELFI Insert
AstroPi MkII interactive test
Treadmill 2 (T2) Exercise Video Equipment Stow
AstroPi Vis setup in Node 2
Install EHIP Light (and secure with Wire Ties), LREBA, HECA Power Cable, HECA/ERCA hardware on ORLAN suits - assistance
AstroPi Camera Lens adjustment
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain, Fill
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Setup and Refill of the Lab Low Temperature Loop (LTL) Pump Package Assembly (PPA) accumulator
EVA Lower Torso Assembly (LTA) Repair
P/L Iceberg Sample Removal
Nanoracks Mainframe Alpha Module Install
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Teardown and Stow
APEX-07 Clean and Dry
ARIS Cargo Transfer Bag Audit
HRF Rack 1 PC Software Integrated Build Load Installation Preparation
Cold Stowage Double Coldbag Icebrick Stow
Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing
Personal CO2 Monitor - IPad Collection and Stow
Environmental Health System (EHS) Personal CO2 Monitor Charging
LSG Primary Crew Restraint Fold
Rhodium Australia Probiotic Challenge Transfer 2 to Cold Stow
LSG Work Volume Stow
Rhodium Australia Probiotic Challenge MELFI Sample Insertion
Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Restow
Spacecraft Atmosphere Monitor Locker Removal from EXPRESS Rack and Pack for Return
Cytoskeleton EC Deinstallation
Cytoskeleton Polar Sample Insertion

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