Four Expedition 68 astronauts are halfway through their bone research activities this week, helping doctors improve treatment for bone conditions on and off Earth. The three cosmonauts living aboard the International Space Station continued their physics research, tested the spacecraft’s communications equipment, and performed eye exams.
Weightlessness reveals phenomena that are difficult or impossible to study in the Earth’s gravitational environment. Scientists on the ground use the space station’s research facilities to study and observe this unique phenomenon and provide advanced solutions that benefit a range of space and terrestrial industries.
Four astronauts aboard the orbiting lab are in the middle of an experiment studying a bone graft adhesive that could reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Doctors have learned that microgravity inhibits bone tissue regeneration and are exploring ways to promote bone repair while living in space. The results may improve recovery from bone damage during space missions and benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.
Flight engineers Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio of NASA and flight engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency were on the second of three days of research operations for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study. The quartet once again spent the day working in the Kibo lab module studying biological specimens inside the Life Science glove box. The samples are returned to Earth for evaluation and analysis and are compared to ground control samples maintained under similar conditions.
Commander Sergei Prokopiev continued his space physics research on Tuesday, studying how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in a specialized chamber. This fundamental experiment can lead to more advanced research methods and improve practical knowledge for Earth and space industries.
Flight engineer Dmitri Petelin spent Tuesday morning collecting station air samples for analysis from the Zvezda, Zarya, Nauka and Destiny modules. Petelin later joined Prokopyev and tested the station’s tele-robotic rendezvous unit, or TORU, in coordination with the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft docked at Zvezda.
Flight engineer Anna Kikina started her day working on an oxygen generator and other life support components. She later joined Petelin for eye checks using medical imaging hardware to understand how life in space affects vision.
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