ISS Virtual Tour

International Space Station Interactive Reference Guide
Interactive Reference Guide

Take a virtual tour of the orbital outpost.

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Space Station Tracking

International Space Station
NASA SkyWatch

Find out when the ISS is over your city, or track where it is right now.

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ESMD speeches
Speeches, Reports and Committees

Find reports and materials from committees, conferences, workshops and forums.

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Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications

    Collage of images showing bugs, cells, plants and X-rays of human bones

    › Space Life Sciences education website

    In the current ISS era, the United States now has an orbiting laboratory that provides a facility for conducting long-duration experiments in microgravity. This allows continuous and interactive research similar to Earth-based laboratories, enabling scientists to pursue innovations and discoveries not currently achievable by other means. NASA's Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division (SLPSRA) has been formulated to execute high quality, high value research and application activities in the areas of Space Life Sciences (SLS), Physical Sciences (PS), Human Research and Crew Health and Safety by mitigating the risks to the crews, and conducting research and developing technologies that will allow humans to travel safely and productively in the environment of space.

    SLPSRA projects have been designed to ensure the health of former, current and future flight crews. This division is comprised of four major components Space Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Human Research Program and Crew Health and Safety a detailed description of programmatic goals can be found at the tabs below. Objectives of the SLPSRA are to advance breakthroughs in discoveries in fundamental life and physical sciences that leveraging the unique events that take place in a space environment. Ensuring that the International Space Station utilization has maximized support of high priority research and applications, reducing risks for long duration space exploration for humans and ensuring current and former crew health and medical data for crews are available for research and application purposes.

    SLPSRA oversees basic and mission driven scientific research in support of human space flight and crew health and safety, overseeing basic and applied scientific research in life and physical sciences and serves as Agency liaison with the ISS National Laboratory management organization.


    Space Life Sciences:

    The Space Life Sciences, Space Biology Program has three primary goals:

    1. to effectively use microgravity and the other characteristics of the space environment to enhance our understanding of fundamental biological processes;
    2. to develop the scientific and technological foundations for a safe, productive human presence in space for extended periods and in preparation for exploration;
    3. to apply this knowledge and technology to improve our nation's competitiveness, education, and the quality of life on Earth.

    These goals will be achieved by soliciting research using its three program elements:

    1. Cell and Molecular Biology and Microbial Biology - studies of the effect of gravity and the space environment on cellular, microbial and molecular processes;
    2. Organismal & Comparative Biology - studies and comparisons of responses of whole organisms and their systems; and
    3. Developmental Biology – studies of how spaceflight affects reproduction, development, maturation and aging of multi-cellular organisms, as described in NASA's › Fundamental Space Biology Science Plan (PDF, 7.4 MB).

    Further details about ongoing activities specific to Space Biology are available:
    › Space Biosciences website

    Three dimensional interface pattern
    Burning droplet in space
    Physics of colloids in space
    ISS optical clock

    Physical Science Research Program: NASA's Physical Science Research Program, along with its predecessors, has conducted significant fundamental and applied research, both which have led to improved space systems and produced new products offering benefits on Earth. NASA's experiments in various disciplines of physical science reveal how physical systems respond to the near absence of gravity. They also reveal how other forces that on Earth are small compared to gravity, can dominate system behavior in space.

    NASA's Physical Science Research Program also benefits from collaborations with several of the ISS international partners—Europe, Russia, Japan, and Canada—and foreign governments with space programs, such as France, Germany and Italy. The scale of this research enterprise promises new possibilities in the physical sciences, some of which are already being realized both in the form of innovations for space exploration and in new ways to improve the quality of life on Earth.

    Research in physical sciences spans from basic and applied research in the areas of:

    1. Fluid physics: two-phase flow, phase change, boiling, condensation and capillary and interfacial phenomena;
    2. Combustion science: spacecraft fire safety, solids, liquids and gasses, supercritical reacting fluids, and soot formation;
    3. Materials science: solidification in metal and alloys, crystal growth, electronic materials, glasses and ceramics;
    4. Complex Fluids: colloidal systems, liquid crystals, polymer flows, foams and granular flows;
    5. Fundamental Physics: critical point phenomena, atom interferometry and atomic clocks in space

    Implementing Centers: NASA's Physical Sciences Research Program is carried out at the Glenn Research Center (GRC), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

    › View site

    Photos: 3D interface pattern directional solidification; burning droplet in space; physics of colloids in space; ISS optical clock. Photos credit: NASA

    Human Research Program image: spacesuit with human figure

    Human Research Program: The Human Research Program (HRP) is focused on investigating and mitigating the highest risks to human health and performance in order to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration. The HRP budget enables NASA to resolve health risks in order for humans to safely live and work on missions in the inner solar system. HRP conducts research, develops countermeasures, and undertakes technology development to address human health risks in space and ensure compliance with NASA's health, medical, human performance, and environmental standards.
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    Painting of astronaut and images of deep space

    Crew Health and Safety (CHS): CHS provides enhancements to the health care provision environment, both in space and on the ground. The program manages aspects of health care for the Astronaut Corps, both while in space and during ground-based training. Critical to mission success is the certification and maintenance of the health of astronauts for long duration space flight. CHS engages in a number of activities that support this process which range from the development or implementation of specific medical devices to the refinement of medical procedures and policies.

    Crew Health and Safety provides the following core services at the Johnson Space Center (JSC): Flight Medicine Clinic Operations, Occupational Medicine and Health services (including Human Test Support), Astronaut Strength and Conditioning (ASCR), Radiation Health, Contingency Operations, Clinical Laboratory Operations, Behavioral Health and Performance, and Medical Informatics, which includes the Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health (LSAH). In addition, Crew Health and Safety develops and implements a standardized suite of surveillance plans to track and monitor spaceflight-related health risks for all astronauts. Finally, Crew Health and Safety supports the development and interpretation of operational health-related data from space flight by: clinical team support of implementation and evaluation of medical requirements, and for rapid response to clinical contingencies; clinical assessments implementation for space medicine issues.
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    ISS National Laboratory

    International Space Station National Laboratory: The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated the U.S segment of the ISS as a national laboratory and directed NASA to develop a plan to "increase the utilization of the ISS by other Federal entities and the private sector…" As the Nation's newest national laboratory, the ISS will further strengthen relationships among NASA, other Federal entities, and private sector leaders in the pursuit of national priorities for the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The ISS National Laboratory will also open new paths for the exploration and economic development of space.
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