Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 March, 2021 – Intense Week of Biology Investigations

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
April 3, 2021
Filed under , , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 March, 2021 –  Intense Week of Biology Investigations
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 March, 2021 - Intense Week of Biology Investigations .

The seven residents aboard the International Space Station are wrapping up an intense week of biology investigations in low-Earth orbit.
Three new crew members are also two weeks away from launching to the orbiting lab and joining the Expedition 64 crew.

The station astronauts have been focusing their research efforts this week on microgravity’s long-term impacts on the human body and other biological processes. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins examined space-grown protein crystals in a microscope on Friday morning for insights into pharmaceutical production beyond Earth’s gravity. She later peered at microscopic worms wriggling in unique sample slides, set up by NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker, to understand how weightlessness affects genetic expression in muscles.

Flight Engineers Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi partnered together in the ongoing Time Perception study inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module. The astronauts wear virtual reality googles and click a trackball while performing a series of exercises to understand how their spatial orientation and cognitive performance changes in microgravity.

Lab maintenance is also critical to ensure station systems such as life support and computing remain in tip-top shape. Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins worked preventative maintenance in the Tranquility module’s Water Recycling System. He also replaced electrical components inside the Human Research Facility-2 rack.

The two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, kept up with their contingent of space research in the station’s Russian segment. Ryzhikov finalized this week’s plasma physics study closing out the experiment and stowing the advanced science gear. Kud-Sverchkov explored how the human circulatory system adapts to long-term spaceflight.

Three new Expedition 65 crew members have arrived at their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos with Soyuz MS-18 Commander Oleg Novitskiy are in final training for their April 9 launch to the space station.

On-Orbit Status Report


HRF-2 (Human Research Facility-2): The crew removed the failed BRP Rack Interface Controller (BRIC) from HRF Rack 2 and replaced with a new Rack Interface Controller (RIC). Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) provides an on-orbit laboratory that enables human life science researchers to study and evaluate the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes induced by spaceflight. Research performed using HRF-2 provides data to help scientists understand how the human body adapts to long-duration spaceflight.

Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion (BAC): The crew moved the Habitat 3 samples back into SABL-2 and participated in a private interview regarding the BAC hardware. Polymicrobial Biofilm Growth and Control during Spaceflight (Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion) explores the formation under microgravity conditions of multi-species biofilms, which may behave differently from single-species biofilms. This investigation identifies the bacterial genes used during biofilm growth, examines whether these biofilms can corrode stainless steel, and evaluates the effectiveness of a silver-based disinfectant. The microorganisms in biofilms can become resistant to traditional cleaning chemicals, leading to contamination of water treatment systems, damage to equipment, and potential health risks to astronauts.

J-SSOD-M2: Crewmembers removed the J-SSOD-M2 hardware from the JEM Airlock slide table. MMSAT-1 is Myanmar’s first 50 kg-class MicroSat, that deploys during the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer-M2 (J-SSOD-M2) micro-satellite deployment mission, handled by the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS). MMSAT-1’s main mission is to monitor the Earth’s surface, and is launched to the International Space Station aboard the NG-15 Cygnus Cargo Vehicle.

Manufacturing Device (MAND): A crewmember removed and stowed a MAND print. The Manufacturing Device enables the production of components on the ISS for both NASA and commercial objectives. Parts, entire experiments, and tools can be created on demand utilizing the MAND printer that is installed into an Express Rack locker location. MAND is capable of producing parts out of a wide variety of thermopolymers including engineered plastics.

Micro-16: Crewmembers performed Microscopy ops on Micro-16 sample cartridges. Loss of muscle mass and strength present a major challenge for astronauts on future long space voyages. Determining Muscle Strength in Space-flown Caenorhabditis elegans (Micro-16) uses this tiny worm to test whether decreased expression of muscle proteins is associated with decreased strength. The research team developed a new device to measure muscle strength in multiple generations of space-reared C. elegans worms and compare that strength to postflight muscle gene expression analyses.

Real-Time Protein Crystal Growth-2 (RTPCG-2): A crewmember removed the EasyXtal Screening Plate from incubation, observed and photographed the sample using the Microscope and returned the Screening Plate back to incubation. Phase II Real-time Protein Crystal Growth on Board the International Space Station (RTPCG-2) demonstrates new methods for producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity. Previous work has shown that microgravity can sometimes produce high-quality protein crystals that can be analyzed to identify possible targets for drugs to treat disease. RTPCG-2 tests high-quality proteins crystals for detailed analysis back on Earth.

Time Perception in Microgravity: The crew performed a TIME experiment combined session. The accurate perception of objects in the environment is a prerequisite for spatial orientation and reliable performance of motor tasks. Time perception in microgravity is also fundamental to motion perception, sound localization, speech, and fine motor coordination. The Time Perception in Microgravity experiment quantifies the subjective changes in time perception in humans during and after long-duration exposure to microgravity.

Ribosome Profiling: The crew performed chamber fixation operations. Since life on Earth emerged about 4 billion years ago, living species have evolutionally adjusted to Earth’s gravity. However, how cells utilize gravity for their gene expression has remained largely unknown. The Genome-wide Survey of Translational Control in Microgravity (Ribosome Profiling) investigation aims to provide insight into how gravity impacts gene expression, with a special focus on translation regulation utilizing a state-of-art technique called “ribosome profiling”.

Completed Task List Activities:

ARED tension adjust
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Payloads ops support
JEMAL activities
Look Ahead Plan
Saturday, March 27 (GMT 086)

Sunday, March 28 (GMT 087)

Monday, March 29 (GMT 088)

GRIP Big Picture (ESA)
Ribosome Profiling closeout (JAXA)
AC Touch (NASA)
PWM Overview and prep (NASA)
RTPCG-2 Plate Load (NASA)
ISS Experience EVA Z-CAM relocate (NASA)
Standard Measures Saliva Setup

Lab cable routing Part 2
ETVCG color TV camera disassembly
BEAM IMV clean
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Standard Measures Body Sampling Survey
Standard Measures Body Sampling Collection
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion Operations
Standard Measures Body Sampling Stow
Micro-16 MELFI Media Retrieve
Standard Measures Fecal Collection
XF305 Camcorder Setup
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Extension to JPM Side
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion Operations
Standard Measures Fecal Collection Stow
JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) (Microsat) onto Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform Removal
PK-4 data hard drives exchange
Cleaning panel vent screens (panels 116, 316, 231, 431)
MPEP Removal from JEM Airlock Slide Table
Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) Removal JEM Airlock Slide Table Support
Cleaning panel vent screens (panels 116, 316, 231, 431)
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Retraction from JPM Side
Astrobee Stowage Clear
HRF Veg Veg Questionnaire
COL1D1 clean-up
Ribosome Profiling Item Gathering
Time experiment science
Astrobee On
Micro-16 Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Micro-16 Experiment Setup
EML Gas Valves Closing
HRF Veg Veg Questionnaire
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Micro-16 Initiation and Loading Operations
Time experiment science
Public Affairs Office (PAO) High Definition (HD) Configuration Airlock
Deck 1 cargo restore
PAO Preparation
Laser ranger preparation for returning with 63S
Microscope Reposition Preparation
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – Node 1 Camcorder Towards Airlock
Micro-16 Microscopy Operations
Food Acceptability Survey
PK-4 Gas Supply Flexhose disconnection for storage
Ribosome Profiling Preservation Cassette Retrieval from MELFI +2 degrees C Part2
Ribosome Profiling Sample Fixation Part2
PK-4 Video Monitor Deactivation
Micro-16 Experiment Stow
Manufacturing Device Print Removal, Clean and Stow
Antimicrobial Coatings Touch
PK-4 Video Monitor Deinstallation
Ribosome Profiling Sample Installation into MELFI -95 degrees C Part2
Food Acceptability Survey
Ribosome Profiling Closeout Part3
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Micro-16 MELFI Culture Return Bag Insertion
Microscope Reposition Preparation
HRF1 Vacuum Mate
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Microscopy Plate S/N B1, Row B, Day 7
HRF2 Vacuum Mate
Video recording
Acoustic Monitor Data Transfer and Stow
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Microscopy Plate S/N B2, Row B, Day 7
Microscope Reposition Post Ops

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