The ISS Symposium 2012 was a unique occasion to share scientific research from the Space Station. A showcase of these results could be seen in the ‘ISS Utilisation Exhibition’ at the symposium.
The exhibit gave basic information on experiments conducted in the orbital outpost, leading to spin-offs for the benefit of people on Earth. Industry presented their state-of-the-art products and technologies based on Station research.
The exhibition was divided into five themes with examples of experiments and products for each theme:
Non-invasive medical diagnostics: 3D Eye Tracking Device, HealthLab, ThermoLab, Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT), Galileo Vibration Trainer, Long Term Medical Survey (LTMS), Hand Grip Dynamometer.
Biomedicine: CAMDASS, Portable Pulmonary Functioning System (PPFS), Robotized Tele-echography, Human Respiratory Analyses (FIPEX), Bone and muscle modelling, Flywheel technology.
Exobiology & Space Environment: Expose, Matroshka, Solar.
Material Science: Geoflow, X-Ray diagnostics, Blades & Foams, FOAM-C.
Biology: KI Biology Experiment Hardware, European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS), Plasma Crystak & Plasma Medicine.
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ISS Symposium 2012 summary
Three days were devoted to research benefits of the International Space Station (ISS) and its future at the first ISS symposium in Berlin 2-4 May. Many impressive results were presented and the message was clear: scientific research on the Space Station is increasing our knowledge of the world and creating tangible benefits for humankind - right now. This is only the beginning because the Space Station will continue to operate for at least eight more years as the only permanent weightless laboratory available to scientists. Nobody knows exactly what results the Station will produce but the future is promising.
ISS director for NASA Mark Uhran said in his presentation that many people underestimate building and maintaining a large Space Station. “It is surely as big a challenge as building the pyramids in Egypt but fortunately it did not take as long” he said. Space Station construction completed in 2010 allowing more time to be spent on research. In only two years of normal operation the results are remarkable.
Highlights of the symposium and research results cover fundamental science as well as industrial, medical and consumer applications.
Astrobiology: we found that some fungi survive in space. The cosmetic industry is interested in this experiment to create make-up with better protective properties. You never know where an industrial application will originate from.
Material sciences: looking at micro-structures in alloys.
Physics of fluids and combustion: creating more stable foams and complex fluids.
Fundamental physics: looking at constants in nature. A possible future project is optical clocks.
ESA supplies the hardware for projects but funding must come from member states.
Russia’s ISS Research Programme
Editor’s note: These brief extracts are paraphrased from live webcast and may not be fully correct.
Russia’s ISS Research Programme Georgy Karabadzhak, TsNIIMash/Russia
JAXA's Kibo research module projects will focus on life science, space medicine and physical/chemical science.
Life sciences on Kibo will research life from small to large progressively: from cellular research to microbes to vertebrates to mammals to humans by 2020.
Space medicine will focus on research to improve health care technology.
Long term targets for chemical science are to contribute to new combustion systems and the science of bubbles, droplets and films.
Short term targets include researching soft materials of benefit for Earth.
An announcement of opportunity was announced and research will be chosen based on utilisation objectives.
Roundtable: Space Technology and Astroscience: ‘Long-term Space Monitoring and Exposure’
Chair: Waleed Abdalati, NASA Chief Scientist
Pascale Ehrenfreund, Reseach Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs, Space Policy Institute, Washington, DC, and Professor of Astrobiology, Leiden University, The Netherlands
Julie Robinson, ISS Programme Scientist NASA
Masaru Matsuoka, Senior Advisor, RIKEN
Gerhard Schmidtke, Senior Project Scientist, Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques, Germany
Boris Zagreev, Head of Laboratory, Central Research Institute for Machine Building, TsNIIMash, Russia
Torsten Neubert, Head of Section for Solar System Physics, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark
Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe, seeking answers to fundamental questions on life. Understanding the fundamentals of life requires using the ISS.
NASA's MISSE-X exposes materials to space environment.
JAXA's MAXI monitors objects over the whole sky using X-rays. It acts as a early warning system to inform satellites and telescopes on the ground where to look.
MAXI highlights: 1. Capturing black hole disruptions. 2. Capturing super bursts from binary stars.
SOLAR : monitoring the energy flowing from the Sun. Data from SOLAR is providing tools for improving climate modelling. Data over a full solar cycle would be indispensable, the ISS offers a stable platform to achieve this data.
ASIM will study thunderstorms above clouds. Lightning sometimes goes up instead of hitting Earth's surface. Studying thunderstorms above clouds is not easy as the clouds hamper investigation from Earth. ASIM on ISS will study many aspects of these lightning 'jets'. The ISS is the best platform to study this as its orbit covers all local times and the most thunderstorm reason as well orbiting as close to Earth as possible. In addition the team would like to complement data with astronaut observations from the Cupola observation module.
These experiments benefit from human interaction to add observations, check the equipment and calibrate or repair if necessary. These actions are not an option on normal satellites.
Roundtable: Life sciences in space and health on Earth
Chair: Rupert Gerzer, Head of DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Cologne, Germany
Chiaki Mukai, JAXA Astronaut, Vice Director for the Human Space System and Utilization Mission Directorate
Michael Barratt, Physician Astronaut and Manager NASA Human Research Programme
Peter Suedfeld, Dean Emeritus of Graduate Studies and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada
Hermann Kuppe, Director, Institute of Anaesthesiology, Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, Germany
Boris Morukov, Physician at the State Research Centre RF-Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP), Russia
If you wish to examine eye functions, you need a dark room, if you wish to examine hearing loss, you need a quiet room. Studying processes involving gravity really requires a place without gravity.
Bone loss in menopausal women is 1% per year, healthy astronauts in space lose bone density at 1% per month, over ten times quicker. Studying bone loss is much quicker in astronauts than on Earth.
Stress in space is unprecedented compared to isolated environments on Earth.
In early space flight psychological problems were not an issue. Longer term missions involving larger crews create stressful situations. Peter Suedfeld is looking at beneficial stress: many astronauts return to Earth with heightened awareness.
Hermann Kuppe on applying space research on surgery: new surgery requires cooling patients to 16 degrees to protect the heart during surgery. Measuring the temperature of these patients is done with a temperature sensor developed for the ISS.
Question and Answer session
Q: What do you see as challenges in terms of using ISS for education?
Q: Medical ethics question: should we send young people to Mars or older people who have already experienced life?
IBMP: Probably older people will be better adapted to a mission to Mars.
Stress in space for life on Earth
Alexander Choukèr, Senior Physician and Associate Professor at the Department of Anaesthesiology, Lecturer at the Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Astronaut's bodies take a lot of stress in space, from cardiovascular to regulation of their body temperature.
What is the cause of this stress and how can we avoid this?
Research is conducted on the ISS but ground-based facilities form an important part of studies.
Studying space flight has led to understanding obesity.
An astronaut study of salt intake on Mir led to findings that salt intake has a direct relation to blood pressure
Salt intake also influences bone loss. By cutting down on salt, less bone is lost in astronauts. The benefits for people on Earth apply to sufferers of osteoporosis.
Microbes in space become more active, uniquely these organisms seem to benefit from microgravity.
Studying microbe activity in space led to better vaccines.
When stress goes up, our immune system weakens. The source of this stress is from the brain; studies now are looking at how our brains influence the immune system when under stress.
Another stress factor is radiation. The Matroshka module on the ISS is analysing radiation received in space. This research allows us to target hard-to-reach brain tumours without damaging the brain itself.
The role of space for human life sciences: offering studies of humans under stress showing rapid onset of health problems beneficial for study.
Editor’s note:These brief extracts are paraphrased from live webcast and may not be fully correct.
Millie Hughes-Fulford, Scientific Advisor to the Undersecretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco
If people ask why research in space, it is best to turn the question around: how many people would not be here if scientific curiosity in bacteria was not kindled, eventually leading to the development of antibiotics? Basic science leads to knowledge, and that knowledge leads to benefits for humankind.
Research on ISS is like solving equations in maths. If you take away an unknown variable you can solve the equation. On the Space Station the variable taken away is gravity.
Challenges to spaceflight on human health are many: bone loss, fluid distribution, weaker immune systems.
T-cells that are part of you immune system and react to invading cells, warning the body of an threat. T-Cells work less well in microgravity, they do not react as they would on Earth.
The last revolution in medicine was drugs that react with the immune systems cells on a molecular level. New development miRNAs, ill treat diseases at a level closer to the source of the immune system, individually adapted to patients' immune systems.
Video message from ESA astronaut André Kuipers
André Kuipers explains his research activities on the International Space Station in a recorded greeting for participants of the ISS Symposium 2012 in Berlin, 2-4 May 2012.