Earthling outpost

Barbara10Broek By Barbara10Broek, 15th Aug 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Astronomy

Discusses the International Space Station research program.

International Space Station

The International Space Station research program was envisioned to be highly diverse and multidisciplinary and to include both basic and applied science. However, NASA’s plans for the use of the space station narrowed after President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration was announced in 2004. Fundamental research in life sciences and microgravity continues, but a major emphasis is preparing for long-duration space missions.
Data is being collected on the effects of space flight and microgravity on human health. Previously, bodily processes such as fluctuations in levels of vitamins, minerals, and hormones could be measured only before and after space flight. Now, the time course of physiological changes can be studied because of the addition of a minus-80-degree freezer on the space station. The freezer is used to store the biological samples collected during the mission until they can be returned to Earth for analysis.
One significant problem for astronauts living in a microgravity environment is loss of bone mineral density. Bone mineral density declines at an average rate of about 1 percent per month on the space station, more than 10 times faster than the average loss in postmenopausal women.
In one study, astronauts wore sensors to measure the forces on legs and feet during daily activities on the space station. The results are being used to design better exercise programs and equipment to curb bone loss in astronauts on future expeditions.
The performance and degradation of hundreds of materials are also being tested in a series of experiments mounted outside the space station. The space environment exposes materials to atomic oxygen, cycles of heating and cooling, radiation, and collisions with small meteoroids. Materials that perform well will be considered for use on satellites and future space exploration vehicles.
Crystallization, melting, solidification, and the behavior of fluids are also being studied. Since these processes are different in zero-gravity conditions, the results of the experiments will address unanswered questions in physics and help in designing better ways to manufacture various materials.
The astronauts on the space station have a great view of Earth, and they have collected hundreds of thousands of images. They observe glaciers and floating rafts of ice, wispy clouds in the upper atmosphere, brilliantly colored auroras, and sprites—flashes of light occurring in the upper atmosphere over thunderstorms. They have also captured unique, high-spatial-resolution shots of city lights and are studying the ecological effects of industrial activities. These observations will reveal long-term planetary changes.


Exploration, Future, Space, Space Station

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
16th Aug 2011 (#)

Very interesting. Thank you Barbara.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Sep 2011 (#)

this is like a great deal of information.. thanks do you work in space or in related vocation

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