Space Stations

Blood Pressure, DNA Studies as Astronauts Prep for Complex Spacewalk Repairs

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 6, 2019
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Blood Pressure, DNA Studies as Astronauts Prep for Complex Spacewalk Repairs
At Work On Orbit

The Expedition 61 crew explored how microgravity is affecting a variety of biological processes in humans and microbes today. Two astronauts are also gearing up for tentatively planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector.
Aging on Earth and living in space impacts an individual’s blood pressure with some astronauts experiencing stiffened arteries after returning to the ground. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir investigated the phenomena today attaching electrodes to her leg and scanning her veins with an ultrasound device. Doctors on Earth will review the downloaded data with results informing potential therapies for Earth-bound and space-caused ailments.

Microbes live everywhere including inside the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is sequencing DNA collected from microbial samples swabbed from inside the orbiting lab. Observations may provide insights into the genetic adaptations taking place to survive in weightlessness.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are studying the complex spacewalk procedures required to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). At least four spacewalks are scheduled, the first of which will be on Friday, Nov. 15. The dates for the other spacewalks are under review and will be scheduled in the near future.

The duo have begun unpacking the AMS tools and hardware delivered aboard the Cygnus resupply ship on Monday. The eight-and-a-half year-old device, which searches for signs of dark matter and antimatter, will have its thermal control system upgraded over a series of soon-to-be scheduled spacewalks.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka explored their set of human research in the station’s Russian segment today. The duo researched the space-caused loss of bone mass and the interactions between international crews and mission controllers during long-duration missions.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.