Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 September, 2021 – How Microgravity Affects Normal Skin and Healing Functions

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
September 21, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 September, 2021 – How Microgravity Affects Normal Skin and Healing Functions
NASA astronaut and Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur configures an EXPRESS rack inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module before installing a new device that scrubs the International Space Station's atmosphere of carbon dioxide. Credit: NASA.

Expedition 65 is kicking off the week with a host of space biology and robotics activities aboard the International Space Station today.
Five astronauts out of the seven crewmates who comprise the space station crew joined each other today for a review of upcoming research operations with rodents. The quintet reviewed roles and procedures for the study to learn how microgravity affects normal skin and healing functions. The astronauts will take turns transferring the mice from the Mouse Habitat Unit to the Life Science Glovebox for observation.

Full-fledged operations for the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration will begin Tuesday and continue before the SpaceX Cargo Dragon returns to Earth with the rodents on Sept. 30. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough will trade shifts on Tuesday with Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei will also contribute to the experiment later in the week.

Kimbrough started Monday checking out and activating the toaster-sized Astrobee robotic fee-flyers in cooperation with engineers on the ground. Hoshide began his day extracting DNA from microbe samples for sequencing to understand the microbial environment of the station. McArthur replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Pesquet set up student-controlled Earth observation hardware then cleaned up debris to support the Plant Habitat-04 space crop experiment.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are continuing to set up hardware, including cables and laptop computers, inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. The new gear will enable the crew to control the European Robotic Arm from both inside and outside the station. The duo then split up Monday afternoon for Russian communications work and life support maintenance.

On-Orbit Status Report


Astrobee: The crew unpacked and visually inspected the Queen Bee Astrobee Free Flyer components. The Free Flyer was activated, and the crew assisted the ground team with component and communications checkout and calibration. Astrobee is made up of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots which are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores, and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.

BioMole: A crewmember performed a surface swab sampling of ISS surfaces to identify bacteria by extracting DNA using mini-PCR 16. The Environmental Health System (EHS) Biomole Facility non-culture-based samples can provide microbial identification on-orbit within days of sampling. The goal of this Tech Demo is to conduct comparative analysis for possible replacement of current microbial monitoring systems.

Dreams: A crewmember retrieved the Dreams Dry-EEG Headband and performed a battery charging and setup. The Headband will be donned prior to sleeping. Sleep plays a major role in human health and well-being. Insufficient sleep, or sleep disorders, can increase the risk of developing medical conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and can impair task performance. The Sleep Monitoring in Space with Dry-EEG Headband (Dreams) is a technology demonstration investigation that utilizes the Dry-EEG Headband: an effective, affordable, and comfortable solution to monitor astronaut sleep quality during long-duration spaceflight aboard the ISS.

Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle Schools (EarthKAM): A crewmember performed the EarthKAM hardware setup in the Node 2 Nadir Hatch, mounted the D2Xs Camera on a Multi-use Bracket facing out the Nadir Hatch Window, and initiated the EarthKAM software. A test image was taken. EarthKAM allows thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s perspective. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted on-board the ISS. This enables them to photograph the Earth’s coastlines, mountain ranges, and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The EarthKAM team then posts these photographs on the Internet for viewing by the public and participating classrooms around the world.

Microbial Tracking-3: A crewmember collected ISS surface samples while photographing each location and placed the samples into cold stowage. The Quantifying Selection for Pathogenicity and Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria and Fungi on the ISS – a Microbial Tracking Study (Microbial Tracking-3 or MT-3) investigation continues a series focused on ongoing monitoring of pathogenicity (ability to cause disease) and antibiotic resistance in potentially disease-causing bacteria and fungi present on the ISS. The investigation aims to identify, analyze, and characterize pathogenicity, antibiotic resistance, and genomics to augment the NASA GeneLab with the statistical confidence to characterize microbes associated with closed habitation and predict those that may pose a threat to crew health.

Plant Habitat-04: A crewmember removed plant litter (detritus), photographed developing peppers, and hand-pollinated all open flowers. Inspection of the plant support rods and twist ties was performed, and the IR Sensor Arm was repositioned. Microgravity Growth of New Mexico Hatch Green Chile as a Technical Display of Advanced Plant Habitat’s Capabilities (Plant Habitat-04) demonstrates using the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) by growing peppers in space for the first time. An excellent source of Vitamin C, peppers are more difficult to cultivate than many possible space crops because they take longer to germinate, grow, and develop fruit. The investigation includes microbial analysis to improve understanding of plant-microbe interactions in space and assessment of flavor and texture, which vary based on the growth environment and care such as amount of watering.


Thermal Amine Scrubber (TAS) Desiccant Wheel Remove and Replace (R&R): The crew removed and replaced the failed Desiccant Wheel in TAS. The Thermal Amine System tests a method of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from air aboard the ISS using actively heated and cooled amine beds. Controlling CO2 levels on the station reduces the likelihood of crew members experiencing symptoms of CO2 buildup, which include fatigue, headache, breathing difficulties, strained eyes, and itchy skin. The system includes elements that reduce loss of water vapor and recovers CO2 for use in electrolysis to produce oxygen.

Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain/Fill: Today, the crew set up the recycle tank to drain to a ???-?. Following the setup, the ground performed the tank drain using the Urine Transfer System (UTS). Once the ground specialists completed the transfer, the crew verified the recycle tank was empty, terminated the drain, and repositioned the fill/drain valve to fill. The crew also swapped the ??? in the offload ??? spot of the UTS.

Environmental Health System (EHS) Operations: Today, the ISS crew performed periodic EHS water sampling by collecting water samples from the Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) for in-flight and post-flight analysis. In-flight samples were used to perform a Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) analysis that measures the amount of organic constituents in the potable water. The crew also tested the water samples for the presence of Coliform bacteria utilizing a Coliform test bag. These tests are used to determine if the drinking water is still safe for crew consumption.

Four Bed CO2 Scrubber (4BCO2) Adlink Deployment: The crew deployed and powered the Adlink Mini-PC for 4BCO2. 4BCO2 demonstrates a technology for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere on a spacecraft. The technology is based off of the current system in use on the ISS, but with mechanical upgrades in absorption beds, heater elements, valves, and an improved zeolite absorbent to reduce erosion and dust formation. A goal for next-generation systems is continuous operation for 20,000 hours without a failure. This technology is a step toward that goal.

Completed Task List Activities:

Node 2 AVN443 HD Encoder #2 Ethernet cable check
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Dedicated RS thruster firing test
Payload Rack Officer (PRO) Fluids Integration Rack (FIR) Activation commanding
PRO Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) activation commanding
PRO Life Science Glovebox (LSG) Facility activation commanding
Look Ahead Plan

Tuesday, September 21 (GMT 264)

Astrobee Off (NASA)
Dreams Headband Charge (ESA)
Microbial Tracking 3 collect (NASA)
RR-D1 Biopsy (NASA)

IFM TAS Desiccant Wheel R&R
IFM Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Pre-Treat Tank R&R
EVA battery charge operations
Wednesday, September 22 (GMT 265)

CBEF-L Mouse Hab Reconfig and install (JAXA)
CIR Manifold-4 Bottle Replace (NASA)
Dreams Headband DOFF, data xfer and stow (ESA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Industrial Crystallization Facility (ALT) stow (NASA)
ISS Experience Z-CAM final stow (NASA)
Microbial Tracking 3 Sample Collect (NASA)
MSL Low Grade Furnaces Sample Cartridge Removal (ESA)
RR-D1 Experiment setup and Hab Restock and Access Unit Clean (NASA)

IFM TAS Desiccant Wheel R&R
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Microbial Capture Device (MCD) and Coliform Water Sample Analysis 44 +/- 4 hours post processing
Thursday, September 23 (GMT 266)

BIOMOLE ops part 3 (NASA)
EarthKAM 85mm Lens Change (NASA)
Eklosion Message and Photo (ESA)
ESA EPO- Touch Surface (ESA)
Lumina Data Transfer (ESA)
Microbial Tracking 3 Sample Collect (NASA)
RR-D1 3A Biopsy (NASA)
STaARS BS12 Sample Removal and MELI insert (NASA)
Standard Measures Presleep Questionnaire (NASA)

64S relocation training
Dragon cargo operations
EVA battery charge operations
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Astrobee Free Flyer Hardware Checkout
Node 2 Deck 2 Stowage Clearing
BioMole Part 1: Surface Sampling and DNA Extraction
USOS Window Shutter Close
Combustion Integrated Rack Bottle Gather
Combustion Integrated Rack Manifold Bottle Replacement
EarthKAM Node 2 Setup and Activation
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Inspection
BioMole Part 2: DNA Cleanup and Amplification
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain
Environmental Health System (EHS) Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) Sample Collect
Four Bed CO2 Scrubber (4BCO2) Adlink Deploy
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain Part 2
Warming Controller Unstow
LSG Work Volume Deploy
LSG Primary Crew Restraint Unfold
LSG Secondary Crew Restraint Unfold
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Thermal Amine Scrubber (TAS) Shell Removal (RMV)
Urine Transfer System Offload EDV Swap
URISYS Hardware setup
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) Sample Analysis
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Thermal Amine Scrubber (TAS) Desiccant Wheel (DESWHL) Remove and Replace (R&R)
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Fill Part 3
In-Flight Maintenance Leak Kit Audit
Plant Habitat-04 DEBRIS Hardware Gather
Plant Habitat-04 Debris Removal
Environmental Health System (EHS) Biomole Stop and Sample
Inspection of Renewable Foam of protective Kit
Microbial Tracking-3 Environmental Sample Collection
BioMole MELFI Insert
Dreams Dry-EEG Headband charge
Environmental Health System (EHS) Coliform Water Processing
Microbial Tracking-3 Iceberg Sample Insertion
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Thermal Amine Scrubber (TAS) Temporary Closeout
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Sample Data Record

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