Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 15 May 2019 – Benefits and Risks of Microorganisms Living in a Spacecraft

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
May 19, 2019
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 15 May 2019 – Benefits and Risks of Microorganisms Living in a Spacecraft
NASA astronaut Nick Hague works with the miniPCR hardware inside the Columbus laboratory module for the Genes In Space-6 experiment that is exploring how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works in microgravity. Credit: NASA.

The Expedition 59 crew spent the day exploring what happens to the immune system when exposed to the microgravity environment. The space residents are also gearing up for another spacewalk at the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were back inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module today studying how a rodent’s immune system changes in space. Canadian Space Agency David Saint-Jacques partnered up with the duo during the research activities throughout Wednesday. The Rodent Research-12 study is helping doctors understand how weightlessness changes an astronaut’s immune system, which is similar to mice.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague worked solo during the morning exploring the benefits and risks of microorganisms living in a spacecraft. Hague first photographed samples of microalgae that may supplement the diet of future astronauts going to the Moon and beyond. Next, the NASA astronaut continued investigating why pathogens become more virulent in space posing a flight risk to astronauts.

Hague also joined Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin during the afternoon helping the cosmonauts with spacewalk preparations. The trio gathered and inspected tethers, tools and a variety of other gear in advance of the Russian spacewalk planned for May 29. The cosmonauts are scheduled to work outside the station’s Russian segment for six hours collecting experiments, cleaning windows and sampling module surfaces.

On-Orbit Status Report

Microgravity Experiment Research Locker/INcubator (MERLIN) Desiccant Swap: The crew completed a routine desiccant swap on MERLIN1. These activities are performed as needed to maintain the desired humidity environment inside the units. MERLIN incubators are capable of storing samples at temperatures from -20.0°C to +48.5°C. MERLIN is part of the Cold Stowage Fleet of hardware which includes Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) and General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator (GLACIER), Polar, and Coldbags.

Microalgae Biosynthesis in Microgravity (MicroAlgae): The crew performed the daily mixing and deploy, periodic photography, and then stowed the experiment at the end of the day to maintain the day/night cycle for the algae. MicroAlgae studies the effects of microgravity on Haematococcus pluvialis, a tiny freshwater algae capable of producing a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin. It could provide a readily available dietary supplement to promote astronaut health on long-duration space exploration missions. This research was proposed by a community college student and alumna of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program.

POLAR-2 desiccant swap: The crew replaced the used POLAR-2 desiccant pack with fresh desiccant. When humidity reached the target level, the unit will powered up as a backup cold stowage capability for items in EXPRESS rack 9B. POLAR is a Cold Stowage managed facility that provides transport and storage of science samples at cryogenic temperatures (-80ºC) to and from the ISS. Its capable of holding 12.75 liters of volume.

Rodent Research-12 Operations: The crew performed operations for 10 of the mice. Rodent Research-12, Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS), examines the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. Spaceflight is known to have a dramatic influence on immune response, but there is little research on its effect following an actual challenge to the body’s immune system. Using a mouse model makes this possible, as the mouse immune system closely parallels that of humans.

Moderate Temperature Loop (MTL) Pump Package Assembly (PPA) Gas Trap Plug Installation: The crew installed gas trap plugs on the 6 USOS Pump Package Assemblies (PPAs). The plugs slow the release of ammonia escaping through the gas trap vent hole in the event of an Interface Heat Exchanger (IFHX) breach and reduces coolant leakage during ISS vacuum condition.

Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Ops: Overnight, Robotics Ground Controllers translated the Mobile Transporter (MT) from Worksite (WS)6 to WS7. Tonight, Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) will remove the failed Battery Charge Discharge Unit (BCDU) from ELC-1, maneuver it to the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Airlock, and install it on the JEM ORU Transfer Interface (JOTI). This activity is in preparation for crew packing of the failed BCDU for return on SpX-17.

Completed Task List Activities:
CSA Evening Routine Video

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Rodent Research Support

Look Ahead:
Thursday, 05/16 (GMT 136):

Food acceptability
LMM/Biophysics-6 plate removal
Rodent Research-12 sample gathering

RS EVA #46 tool gather
Friday, 05/17 (GMT 137):

FIR/LMM/ACE T-12 module config
Circadian Rhythms, Genes in Space-6
HRF1/HRF2 maintenance
ISS Experience
ISS HAM pass

JEM A/L Pressurization Leak Check

Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

24-hour ECG Recording (termination)
TIMER. Camcorder Settings Adjustment
Micro Algae Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Rodent Research Assist
Rodent Research Operations 1A
Rodent Research Operations 1B
Micro Algae Culture Bag Photography
24-hour BP recording (terminate)
Rodent Research Glovebox Freezer Sample Insert
MOTOCARD. Experiment Session
FEP MELFI Retrieve 2
Rodent Research Cryochiller Insert-2
Micro-14 Inoculation and Preservation-MSG
MOTOCARD. Operator Assistance with the Experiment
Rodent Research Centrifuge Setup Configure
HRF Centrifuge Spin Conclude
Rodent Research MELFI Insert 3
Rodent Research Assist-1
MERLIN Desiccant Swap
ISS Experience Solid State Drive Changeout
RR Cryo Chiller Sample Transfer to MELFI
TIMER. Closeout Ops
Acoustic Monitor Data Transfer and Stow
Rodent Research Sample Relocation
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) in Columbus
On MCC Go: Filling Progress 440 [AO] СрПК Section 2 with N2
Gathering and Activation of Crew Onboard Support Kit (КСПЭ) camcorder for DC1 TV mpeg2 coverage EVA Equipment Prep via Ku-band
Russian Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Gather
Gathering EVA Equipment and Tools. Photo/Video
HRF Centrifuge Spin Conclude Final
Polar Desiccant Swap
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – Lab
Deactivation of camcorder, TV system monitoring equipment, closing applications
MTL Pump Package Assembly (PPA) Gas Trap Plug Installation
CONTENT. Experiment Ops
MICRO ALGAE Culture Bag Daily Stow

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