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NASA Astronaut Loral O’Hara, Expedition 70 Science Highlights

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara is returning home after six months aboard the International Space Station. During her time on the orbiting laboratory, O’Hara contributed to dozens of scientific investigations and technology demonstrations to prepare for future space exploration missions and generate innovations and benefits for humanity on Earth.

Here is a look at some of the scientific activities O’Hara conducted during her mission:

Biking for Better Health

O’Hara, wearing a gray t-shirt, maroon pants, and black shoes, smiles at the camera. She is holding on to bars attached to a large metal frame and her feet are strapped into pedals attached to the teal-colored exercise cycle. A hatch into another part of the space station is visible behind her, and laptops, cords, and wires cover the walls around her.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara is among the first astronauts participating in the CIPHER (Complement of Integrated Protocols for Human Exploration Research on Varying Mission Durations) investigation. CIPHER examines physiological and psychological changes that humans undergo during spaceflight. One of the protocols measures changes in cardiorespiratory and muscle fitness during exercise. Collecting data from crew members on missions of different durations supports development of ways to protect crew member health on a long mission such as a trip to Mars.

Tending the Space Garden

O’Hara is wearing a blue sweatshirt and light blue gloves and smiling at the camera. She has one hand on a tube connected to a large metal box that is lighted inside. The front of the box is open and inside multiple rows of small green plants are visible.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara works with tomato plants grown for Plant Habitat-06, an investigation using genetic analysis to examine how spaceflight affects plant immune function and production. Results could support development of crops to provide food and other services on future space missions. On Earth, pathogens are responsible for up to 40% of global crop loss, and insight into the interaction between gravity and how plants respond to pathogens could inform strategies to enhance crop growth and productivity.

Reading Radiation Exposure

Mogensen is wearing a long-sleeved green shirt and khaki pants, O’Hara a short-sleeved blue shirt and green pants, Moghbeli a short-sleeved pink shirt and khaki pants, and Furukawa a long-sleeved black shirt and khaki pants. All four are smiling at the camera and holding small pager-sized devices that are white on the front and purple around the edges.

Crew members pose with active dosimeters: left to right, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). These devices monitor individual radiation exposure for the International Space Station Internal Radiation Monitoring investigation, which aims to keep ionizing radiation exposure at levels acceptable for maintaining crew member health and safety and ensuring the success of their missions.

Understanding Bone Loss

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer Loral O'Hara works on a bone cell study inside the Life Science Glovebox located inside the International Space Station's Kibo laboratory module. O’Hara was working on the Microgravity Associated Bone Loss-A investigation that may provide a better understanding of space-caused bone loss and aging-related bone conditions on Earth.

Bone loss is a major problem of aging on Earth and a serious health concern for astronauts. MABL-A (Microgravity Associated Bone Loss-A) examines the effect of microgravity on bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells, which produce bone-forming cells and play a role in making and repairing skeletal tissues. NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara works inside the Life Science Glovebox for the investigation, which could improve understanding of the mechanisms behind bone loss and support development of ways to better protect crew members and people on Earth from its effects.

Bringing in the Cold

Moghbeli, left, wears a coral-colored t-shirt and O’Hara wears a dark blue t-shirt. Both are smiling at the camera as their curly hair floats around their heads. The white front of the Cold Atom Lab hardware, visible behind them, has multiple hoses and tubes attached to its front.

NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara pose in front of the Cold Atom Lab. The lab produces clouds of atoms so cold that they have almost no motion, allowing researchers to observe their fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics. Physicists have long pursued ever colder temperatures, and microgravity may make it possible to achieve those temperatures for longer periods of time. The Cold Atom Lab research could facilitate the development of new quantum technology.

Taking Out the Heat

O’Hara is wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and green pants, with her hair in a ponytail. She is standing in front of the open front of a large, lighted module with two silver boxes inside it, each with multiple hoses and connectors. She is looking at a laptop screen at the top of the module and holding on to the edge of the hardware with her left hand.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara works on MaRVIn-PCIM (Microgravity Research for Versatile Investigations-Phase Change in Mixtures), which examines the dynamics of liquid and vapor flow inside a wickless heat pipe. These devices, used to dissipate heat to cool satellites and electronics, operate differently in microgravity than on Earth. Results could support development of lighter and more efficient cooling devices for future space exploration.

Preparing for a Walk in Space

O’Hara is inside a white spacesuit with an American flag on the shoulder. Her face is visible through the clear front of the helmet, and she is using her gloved right hand to tuck the suit into the glove of her left hand. The suit is attached to a metal frame on the wall.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara tests components of her spacesuit in preparation for a spacewalk. O’Hara and NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli conducted a spacewalk together on Nov 1, 2023. It took the duo six hours and 42 minutes to complete tasks that included working on hardware that enables the space station’s solar arrays to track the Sun, helping to provide power for scientific operations on the orbiting lab.

Creating Cardiac Tissues

O’Hara is floating horizontally, smiling at the camera, her arms inside plastic sleeves of the BioFabrication Facility, which is connected to the wall to her right. She is wearing a green t-shirt and khaki pants and has a headset on. Several cords float in front of her.

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara works on the Redwire Cardiac Bioprinting Investigation (BFF Cardiac), which studies bio-printed cardiac tissues. Higher-quality 3D tissues can be printed in microgravity, where density layers, settling, and other effects of gravity are absent. This technology supports development of ways to print food and medicine on demand on future missions, reducing mass and cost at launch and improving crew health and safety. Results also could advance technologies to create replacement organs and tissues for transplant on Earth, helping to alleviate shortages.

Melissa Gaskill
International Space Station Research Communications Team
Johnson Space Center

Search this database of scientific experiments to learn more about those mentioned above.

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