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Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist
June 18, 2013

Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-C1 setup in the Japanese Experiment Module Pressurized Module. (NASA) Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-C1 setup in the Japanese Experiment Module Pressurized Module. (NASA)
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(Highlights: week of June 3, 2013) - European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano completed three measurements on the inner side of his forearm to assess skin moisture, skin barrier function and skin surface for the Skin-B investigation. This new study investigates how long-term spaceflight impacts skin health and aging with the goal of developing a mathematical model of aging skin. The project aims to clarify how the skin, as a model for other organs, alters and if, or how quickly, a regeneration of the skin takes place. Experimental data gathered on the International Space Station can provide an insight into the mechanisms by which all organs covered with epithelial and connective tissue adapt and age over time, and under the physical stress imposed by the environment. Gaining an understanding of tissues-change process should allow for better diagnostic and treatment on ground.

The Expedition 36 crew completed the third session of the Viable investigation. Short for eValuatIon And monitoring of microBiaL biofilms insidE ISS, the study involves the evaluation of the microbial biofilm development on space materials. Both metallic and textile space materials, either conventional or innovative, are located inside and on the cover of Nomex pouches that are placed inside the space station. It may supply interesting data related to the biosafety and health quality of astronauts as well as to the maintenance of station hardware. Microbial biofilms are well known for causing damage and contamination. The study could help in creating products to treat space materials that may lead to improved environmental quality of manned confined habitats in space, but also specific bases and modules on Earth where humans have to stay long term, particularly for scientific purposes.

The crew performed a pre-mix activity of three samples planned for future runs for the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-C1 (BCAT-C1). This experiment studies nano-scale particles dispersed in liquid, known as a colloidal suspension, commonly found in such commercial commodities as paint, electronic polishing compounds and food products. These suspensions have a unique property: The particles separate from each other, like oil and water, and the particles self-assemble into crystals that interact strongly with light, like opal. Photographing these samples in microgravity allows measurement of these processes, while avoiding the effects of particle sinking caused by gravity. This study seeks to develop new insights into this important material process. Improved understanding of these processes may lead to more refined manufacturing processes and commercial products.

Parmitano and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg completed surveys, saliva and blood sampling, and blood operations for the new Microbiome study. Microbiome investigates the impact of space travel on the human immune system and on an individual's microbiome (the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body) to help predict how long-term space travel may impact human health. It is known that factors such as stress, diet and an impaired immune system can trigger changes in the human microbiota, increasing the risk of contracting a disease. The product of this study will be an assessment of the likelihood and consequences of alterations in the microbiome due to extreme environments, and the related human health risk. Findings could be used to benefit people on Earth who live and work in extreme environments. Other potential applications of this study could be to further research in preliminary detection of diseases, alterations in metabolic function and immune system deficiency.

To learn more about the investigation, watch the Space Station Live video below:


Other human research investigations continued for various crew members including Space Headaches, Circadian Rhythms, Ocular Health, Reaction Self Test, Repository, and Dietary Intake Can Predict and Protect Against Changes in Bone Metabolism During Spaceflight and Recovery (Pro K).

Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 35/36

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
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