ISS – Expedition 53 Mission patch.
Oct. 12, 2017
(Highlights: Week of October 2, 2017) – Science continued aboard the International Space Station as crew members prepared for an executed a spacewalk to work on the Canadarm2 last week.
European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli configured the Fluids Integrated Rack’s (FIR) newly-upgraded Light Microscopy Module (LMM) in preparation for the upcoming Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T6) operations. The LMM microscope is a state-of-the-art light imaging microscope facility that allows research of microscopic phenomena in microgravity. Understanding how matter is organized and moves on a microscopic level could help scientists and engineers develop more efficient materials and machines for both Earth and space environments. The recent upgrade will enable 3D imaging of complex fluid structures and will allow for modeling the movement of individual particles at the micron level.
Image above: Crew members captured this view of the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility (JEM-EF), which holds up to 10 experiment payloads at a time outside the Japanese Experiment Module. Image Credit: NASA.
The ACE-T6 investigation will be the first experiment run with the upgraded LMM, and will study the microscopic behavior of colloids, which are suspensions of microscopic particles in a liquid. Common colloids include things ranging from milk to fabric softener, gels and creams. On Earth, these particles separate quickly under the force of gravity. However, in the microgravity environment of the orbiting laboratory, the movements and interactions of the particles can be observed more clearly. The addition of the ability to conduct 3D imaging will provide improved images that can be rotated and studied from every angle, potentially offering understanding that could improve product shelf life.
From microscopy to spectroscopy, the crew also swapped out a hard drive on the Meteor Composition Determination (Meteor) laptop in support of the ongoing observation of meteors in Earth orbit. The Meteor camera is house in the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) in the Destiny Lab, and uses image analysis to provide information on the physical and chemical properties – such as size, density and chemical composition – of the meteoroid dust. Studying the elemental composition of meteors is important to our understanding of how the planets developed.
Image above: NASA astronaut Joe Acaba is seen with the Meteor camera, which monitors and records meteors in Earth’s orbit, and provides information on the physical and chemical properties of meteoroid dust. Image Credit: NASA.
Nespoli also completed a session of the Effects of Long-Duration Microgravity on Fine Motor Skills (Fine Motor Skills) investigation. Crew members periodically perform a series of interactive tasks on a touchscreen tablet as part of the study to measure long-term microgravity exposure, different phases of microgravity adaptation and – upon return to Earth – sensorimotor recovery. The Fine Motor Skills investigation could help researchers develop better countermeasures to protect crew safety and efficiency on future long-duration missions. Additionally, since computer-based games and tasks are frequently used to measure and improve fine motor abilities in elderly patients, people with motor disorders, and patients with brain injuries, the tasks developed for the Fine Motor Skills investigation could also benefit patients on Earth undergoing rehabilitation for conditions that impair fine motor control.
Progress was made on other investigations last week, including: MagVector, RaDI-N, Veg-03, Story Time From Space, Space Headaches and MobiPV.
Light Microscopy Module (LMM): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/541.html
Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-6 (ACE-T6): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1968.html
Meteor Composition Determination (Meteor): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1323.html
Window Observational Research Facility (WORF): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/358.html
Fine Motor Skills: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1767.html
Story Time From Space: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1287.html
Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html
International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Erling. G. Holm/John Love, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 53 & 54.