Science Highlight: ISS Science Schedules Keep ISS Astronauts Busy
After six months of living in space, U.S. Astronaut and Flight Engineer, Tracy Caldwell-Dyson returned to Earth on Saturday, September 25. Looking back at her accomplishments during Increment 23/24 reveals not only a full agenda of science and technology, but the International Space Station (ISS) crew's efficient use of available time.
A large part of a crewmember's role in the unique environment of space includes scientific pursuits. Tracy led a scheduled life on the ISS, participating in 46 different experiments. From her sleep patterns (Sleep-Long
) to breathing (VO2max
, and VCAM
), from her cardiovascular health (Vascular
) to changes in her height (Spinal Elongation
), she was frequently part of the studies herself.
Tracy's various on-orbit tasks included short- and long-duration commitments. Some experiments only required the time necessary to collect human biological samples, such as Pro K
, Reaction Self Test
, and Nutrition
. Others were more interactive, like BISE
, which gauges human perception in microgravity. Tracy additionally participated in technology and physical sciences experiments that evaluated fire suppressants with MDCA-FLEX
, as well as evaporation and condensation affects on heat transfer in microgravity, via Constrained Vapor Bubble (CVB) testing.
Hardware preparation and installation tasks, including EXPRESS Rack
, were also part of Tracy's responsibilities. She performed completion activities for DOSIS
, maintenance for MSG
, and cleaning for SAMS
. It was hardware that interrupted the July schedule, when a pump failed on orbit
. Crewmembers, including Tracy, were flexible and switched to recovery activities, like relocating MELFI
-housed biological samples. Following repairs, science resumed on ISS
Work for astronauts aboard the ISS can be fun and even provide inspiration back on Earth. Tracy's contribution to experiments involving student education, like EarthKAM
, Kids In Micro-g
, EPO Demo
, and SPHERES Zero Robotics
, helps to generate knowledge and interest in the next generation of astronauts, scientists, and engineers. She and other crewmembers also participate in photography of the Earth from aboard the ISS via a study known as Crew Earth Observation (CEO)
The continued human presence in space makes the science covered by crewmembers possible. The ISS Program Science Office looks forward to continued accomplishments on ISS and welcomes Tracy Caldwell-Dyson home!
by Jessica Nimon
NASA's Johnson Space Center
ISS Program Science Office