The space station

The crew starts the week with bone research, physics studies – Space Station

The space station’s solar arrays and a small satellite orbiter are pictured as the orbiting laboratory soars above the African nation of Namibia.

Space medicine was the top research priority aboard the International Space Station on Monday as four Expedition 68 astronauts explored bone healing conditions. The orbiting laboratory’s three cosmonauts spent the day studying a variety of physics, packing a supply ship and maintaining the station’s hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio joined flight engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for an all-day bone research session in the Kibo laboratory module. The quartet worked in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox serving research samples for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study.

Living in microgravity can affect skeletal stem cells and bone tissue regeneration or bone repair. Researchers are studying a bone graft adhesive on the space station with the potential to reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. The results may also benefit therapies for Earth-based conditions such as osteoporosis. The astronauts will remain focused on bone research activities until Wednesday.

Two cosmonauts worked on several different space physics experiments throughout the month. Commander Sergei Prokopiev explored the behavior of clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, in a specialized chamber. The observations may lead to improved spacecraft design as well as a better understanding of plasmas on Earth. Flight engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity.

Cosmonauts also worked on loading activities and maintaining the laboratories. Prokopiev stored items for disposal inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo ship before its departure in February. Petelin removed the navigation hardware from inside the ISS Progress 82 supply ship, then photographed the interior of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to assess its potential storage volume. Roscosmos flight engineer Anna Kikina spent the day maintaining life support systems and electronics.

Learn more about the station’s activities by following the space station blog, @space station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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