Space Station Crew Celebrates the Holidays

All six members of the crew aboard the International Space Station celebrated the holidays with a festive meal.
Image Credit: NASA

Crew members on the International Space Station installed a new device to help regulate temperature and an investigation created by aspiring scientists still in high school.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough installed the Phase Change Heat Exchanger Project (Phase Change HX) to begin an investigation into ways to maintain safe temperatures in space. The lack of atmosphere or protection from the sun’s heat makes regulating temperature in space difficult. Phase-change material heat exchangers can help by freezing or thawing a material to maintain critical temperatures inside a spacecraft, protecting crew members and equipment. A wax-based exchanger has been used in the past, but this water-based version has significantly better energy storage and has not been tested in space. By using materials that can change phase from liquid to vapor, depending on the temperature, facilities can more easily move heat into areas that must be warmed by removing heat from areas that much be cooled. This new hardware introduces the capability by supplying sub-zero fluid temperatures to investigations that need them.

These tests will improve the design of this style of exchanger on Earth, where it is used as a low-energy method to control temperatures in chemical plants and power plants.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet installed the NanoRacks-CUBERIDER-1 (NanoRacks-CR-1) module into one of the NanoRacks platforms – a shoebox-sized section of one of the larger racks that stores science experiments on the space station.

This educational module runs a computer code written by high school students to conduct tests and record data about the microgravity environment. This particular investigation monitors for radiation and any movement on station using a small camera viewing the inside of the orbiting laboratory.

The investigation is one of many ways the space station program engages students, encouraging studies in the science, technology engineering and math fields as future scientists devise their own experiments and experience space science first hand

Kimbrough installed nine radiation detectors throughout the Japanese Pressurized Module and Japanese Experiment Logistics Module as part of the Area Passive Dosimeter for Life-Science Experiments in Space (Area PADLES) investigation. The JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) dosimeters continuously monitor the radiation dose aboard the space station.

Radiation exposure can have significant effects on living organisms, including the crew and biological investigations being done on the space station in the Japanese Experiment Module, Kibo. Measuring radiation in space is essential to protecting astronauts, developing monitors and shielding for life sciences experiments in space, and designing wall thicknesses for future space vehicles.

On Earth, the dosimetry technique measures radiation doses for people working around high-energy accelerators — used with high-speed microscopes to image cancer cells.

Pesquet began four tests for the Aquaporin Inside Membrane Testing in Space (AquaMembrane) investigation which looks into a potential new method for water recovery on space vehicles. As one of the basic needs for survival, recovering water from moisture in the cabin atmosphere and filtering waste water –- sweat and urine — for reuse is an important part of the station’s life support system. This ESA study collects and treats waste water in space that will be transported back to Earth for analysis. The investigation may lead to improved efficiency for reclaiming water in space, reducing the frequency for resupply from Earth and impact life support systems for future long-duration exploration missions beyond our orbit. The AquaMembrane is developed using a technology called forward osmosis, which is also being tested to desalinate ocean water for use on Earth.

Crew members conducted other human research investigations this week, including Biochem Profile, Repository, Habitability, ESA-Active-Dosimeters, Fine Motor Skills, Lighting Effects, Multi-Omics, Neuromapping, Dose Tracker and Space Headaches.

Progress also was made on other investigations and facilities this week, including Veg-03, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02), ISS Ham, ACE-T-1, Group Combustion, JAXA ELF, Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE),  Aerosol Samplers, Aquapad, ISS External Leak Locator, J-SSOD, Personal CO2 Monitors, PS-TEPC, Radi-N2, RTcMISS, Water Monitoring Suite, and Biolab.

Who Is On The Station Now

Andrey Borisenko
Commander Shane Kimbrough
Sergey Ryzhikov
Thomas Pesquet
Peggy Whitson
Oleg Novitskiy

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