For eight days the International Space Station operated at full capacity with nine astronauts. With the extra set of hands in space the science teams on Earth got busy scheduling the astronauts’ days to get the most research time out of their time in orbit.
Time probably flew for Hazzaa who has already returned to Earth alongside NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian commander Alexei Ovchinin in Soyuz MS-12.
EveryWear is everywhere
The astronaut app EveryWear was developed for Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima mission in 2016, and it is now a useful aid for recording all kinds of scientific data. On 2 October, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan wrapped up their third and last session of the Acoustic Diagnostics experiment. The session needed to be scheduled on their 80th day in space. Similar to the Time experiment but with sound, the astronauts wore headphones and answered questions on what they heard using the EveryWear app. The experiment will assess how hearing is affected in weightlessness as well as measure background noise on the International Space Station. Listen to this episode of ESA’s Beyond podcast for more on sounds in space:
Luca and Drew also did a second session for Grip, both in a seated and standing position. This experiment monitors how astronauts’ brains assess grip force when reaching for an object.
Linked to bone loss is the EDOS-2 experiment, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Ovchinin did a third and final in-flight session by taking samples of his blood. In true International Space Station style, NASA astronaut Christina Koch put the samples into the Station’s –80°C European-built freezer where they will stay until they are returned to Earth for analysis. Astronauts lose up to 1% of their bone mass each month they stay in space – a form of advanced osteoporosis – and finding way to limit this is important for further exploration. For researchers, having a pool of healthy subjects to study that experience acute osteoporosis is a fascinating opportunity, as osteoporosis on Earth takes years to develop and is harder to study.
On 10 October Russian Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov set up Europe’s Electromagnetic levitator so ground control could programme it ahead of another batch of melting and solidifying metals in microgravity. This facility is helping understand the deeper secrets of metallurgy and space-age alloys.
Luca also did periodic check of the DOSIS-3D radiation monitors dotted around the Space Station. These devices are charting radiation throughout the outpost to understand how to best protect astronauts from cosmic rays in the next generation of spacecraft.
Outside the Space Station, the space storm-hunter ASIM continues to track lightning events above thunderclouds while the Vessel-ID antenna monitors global marine traffic. The receiver underwent a “periodic maintenance powercycling performed by deactivation and reactivation of SUP1 J03 outlet” on 9 October, in other words, it was turned off and on again. Even in space it is good practice to try turning it off and on again.