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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights for the Week Ending December 26, 2011
(Highlights: Week Ending December 26, 2011) -- Dan Burbank completed his second session with the Evaluation of Maximal Oxygen Uptake and Submaximal estimates of VO2max before, during and after long-duration space station missions (VO2max). The experiment documents changes in maximum oxygen uptake over long-duration missions.

Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit completed sessions of the Cardiac Atrophy and Diastolic Dysfunction During and After Long Duration Spaceflight: Functional Consequences for Orthostatic Intolerance, Exercise Capability and Risk for Cardiac Arrhythmias (Integrated Cardiovascular). This experiment determines how much cardiac atrophy, or decrease in heart muscle, occurs during spaceflight and how fast it develops, whether this atrophy causes problems with the heart's pumping or electrical function, and how both the atrophy and any associated changes develop.

Kuipers and Pettit also completed sessions with the Nutritional Status Assessment (Nutrition). This comprehensive in-flight study is designed to understand changes in human physiology during long-duration spaceflight. This study includes measurements of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, and chemical and hormonal changes; as well as assessments of the nutritional status of the crew members participating in the study. The two also completed sessions with the Dietary Intake Can Predict and Protect Against Changes in Bone Metabolism during Spaceflight and Recovery (Pro K) experiment. This investigation is NASA's first evaluation of a dietary countermeasure to lessen bone loss of astronauts. The results from both studies have an impact on the definition of nutritional requirements and development of food systems for future space exploration missions. Understanding the relationship of nutrition to bone loss is potentially valuable for patients suffering from bone loss on Earth.

Crew members continue weekly entries for the Behavioral Issues Associated with Isolation and Confinement: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals (Journals) experiment. This study, which requires three entries per week, obtains information on behavioral and human issues that are relevant to the design of equipment and procedures and sustained human performance during extended-duration missions. Study results will provide information to help prepare for future space missions and could help to improve the behavioral performance of people living and working under a variety of conditions here on Earth.

The European Space Agency's Role of the Endocannabinoid System in human Lymphocytes Exposed to Microgravity (ROALD2) was successfully completed. The study investigates the function of endocannabinoids -- substances produced within the body to activate cell membrane receptor -- in the regulation of the immune processes and cell cycle under microgravity conditions. ROALD2 identifies countermeasures against impairment of the immune system efficiency due to spaceflight.

Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 29/30

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