ISS – Expedition 56 Mission patch.
June 10, 2018
Three crew members returned to Earth just before three more launched to the International Space Station to continue work on the hundreds of experiments happening aboard the orbiting laboratory. NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and crewmates Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) landed in Kazakhstan on Sunday, June 3. Three new crew members – NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA), and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos– joined the ranks of Expedition 56 Friday morning.
Image above: The The Soyuz MS-09 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station Wednesday morning. At the time of launch, the station was flying about 250 miles above south central Egypt. Image Credit: NASA.
Ahead of the arrival of the latest crew members, the remaining trio conducted research in the fields of plant biology, human research and physical science.
Here are more details on some of the science that happened this week aboard your orbiting laboratory:
Plant growth investigation prepares for initiation
Understanding how plants grow and thrive in harsh environments, both on Earth and in space, is important for advancements in agriculture. The Advanced Plant Habitat Facility (Plant Habitat) is a fully automated facility used to conduct plant bioscience research and provides a large, enclosed, environmentally-controlled chamber aboard the space station.
Animation above: NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold set up the Plant Habitat-1 investigation for initiation. Image Credit: NASA.
Soon, the Plant Habitat-1 investigation will begin within the facility with the growth of Arabidopsis, small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard. Arabidopsis is of particular interest because it contains the thale cress, a model organism and the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced. In preparation for its initiation, crew members changed out Ethylene and Carbon Dioxide scrubbers, inlet and out filters and prepared the carrier for installation.
Learn more about the Plant Habitat here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/Giving_Roots_and_Shoots_Their_Space_APH
Facility prepares for ground operations
The Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) is an experimental facility designed to levitate, melt and solidify materials by container-less processing techniques using the Electrostatic Levitation method. With this facility, properties of high temperature melts can be measured, and solidification from deeply undercooled melts can be achieved.
This week, the crew moved samples to prepare for upcoming ground commanded operations. Results from this investigation may contribute to the development of containerless processing technology, benefiting manufacturers and scientists designing new materials.
Satellite readied and attached to JEM Airlock for deploy
The space station the only spacecraft orbiting the Earth. In fact, it is accompanied by the Hubble Space Telescope, satellites within the Earth Observing System, and more than 1,000 other operational spacecraft and CubeSats. In addition to spacecraft, bits of orbital debris – human-made objects no longer serving a purpose in space – are also in orbit. NanoRacks-Remove Debris (RemDeb) demonstrates an approach to reducing the risks presented by orbital debris by using a 3D camera to map the location and speed of debris, then deploying a net to capture and de-orbit simulated debris up to 1 meter in size.
Image above: A view of the JEM External Platform. Soon, the NanoRacks-Remove Debris investigation will be deployed from the JEM Experiment Airlock later this month. Image Credit: NASA.
This week, the crew prepared the satellite for deployment by removing the launch panels and protective coverings, attaching the Kaber deployer system to the satellite, then attaching the satellite to the Airlock Adapter Plate on the JEM Airlock Slide Table before retracting the Slide Table back into the Airlock and closing the hatch. The satellites deployment is planned for June 19.
Other work was done on these investigations: Atomization, Probiotics, NICER, Food Acceptability, SUBSA, ICE Cubes Facility, Manufacturing Device, Wireless Compose, SABL, CEO, ASIM and Functional Immune.
Advanced Plant Habitat Facility (Plant Habitat): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=2036
Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1738
Orbital debris: https://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/
NanoRacks-Remove Debris (RemDeb): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1738
Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/
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), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Yuri Guinart-ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.
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