12 impressive experiments on the International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS), which, in fact, is an orbital laboratory, provides researchers from around the world a unique opportunity to conduct various experiments in microgravity and harsh space environment. For what purposes, scientists do not use the ISS, ranging from testing technologies of the future and downloading the study of human health! Sometimes their efforts yield tremendous results, which will be discussed in the article below.
1. Headless flatworms
As you know, on Earth, flatworms are able to regenerate old and damaged cells of their bodies. In September 2014, scientists decided to check how this restoring mechanism works in space. On the International Space Station, they conducted a study in which they intentionally cut off head and tails of flatworms. At the moment, the experiment continues.His results will provide insight into how gravity affects tissue regeneration and repair of damaged organs and nerves.
2. "Space" mouse
People exploring deep space and life on other planets should know how to deal with the effects of prolonged exposure to powerful cosmic radiation, which can lead to the development of cancer and the occurrence of gene mutations. Laboratory mice have long been used by scientists as experimental animals and model organisms to study the radiation effect, but it is not possible to deliver them to the International Space Station at the moment. Instead, researchers will send frozen mouse embryos into open space, and on returning to Earth they will plant them for surrogate mothers. In the future, scientists will use the "space" mice to study longevity, cancer development and the occurrence of gene mutations.
3. Talking Zucchini
In 2012, astronaut Don Pettit wrote posts on behalf of the zucchini he had grown from seeds at the International Space Station on his blog.The purpose of such research is the use of plants to provide crews of spacecraft, staying in open space for a long time, with oxygen and fresh food. Changes in lighting, gravity, radiation, and other factors play an important role in the growth and development of plants grown under space conditions. The anthropomorphic Zucchini blog was created to interest students in exploring the expanses of the Universe and, thus, facilitate the emergence of the next generation of scientists from the ISS.
4. Liquidation of fire
In space, the flame behaves differently than on Earth, due to the complex interaction of factors such as fuel evaporation, radiation hypothermia, and chemical kinetics. It is on their understanding that the rapid and effective elimination of fires depends. In the course of a study conducted in early October of this year, the scientists of the ISS tested various methods of suppressing fire under microgravity conditions and found that burning in space can take place at lower temperatures than on Earth and requires less oxygen than under normal gravity .This means that highly concentrated means must be used to eliminate the sources of ignition. The most surprising finding of this study is that under certain conditions, heptane drops continue to burn even after extinguishing the fire. This phenomenon is called “cold flame extinction” (English "cool-flame extinction").
5. Robot ISS
This humanoid robot with two arms, but no lower torso, was installed on the International Space Station in order to control and monitor the equipment at high risk while the crew members rest from the load. The management of the Robonaut (eng. Robonaut) is carried out using a special remote control or a set consisting of a vest, gloves and a 3D-visor. In the future, scientists plan to add lower limbs to the design of the robot and program it to perform tasks both on the ISS and beyond.
6. Night lights
At the NASA online resource for all, ol.jsc.nasa.gov (Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth - “Access to photographs of the Earth made by astronauts”), you can find pictures from space starting in the 1960s and ending with our in days.More than a million of these photos were taken by astronauts from the board of the International Space Station at night. In order to catalog such a huge number of pictures, the scientists decided to create a crowdfunding project called “Night Cities” (eng. Cities at Night). It includes three components:
1) “Dark Skies of ISS” (English Dark Skies of ISS) provides for sorting photos of cities, stars and other objects;
2) "Night Cities" (English Night Cities). The participants of this subproject should correlate each image with the location on the map;
3) “Lost in the night” (eng. Lost at Night) - goal: search for individual cities in the images covering a zone with a radius of 500 kilometers.
7. Personal diaries
In October 2014, scientists in the framework of the new study entitled “Behavioral problems associated with isolation: Review and analysis of astronaut diaries” asked a group of ten crew members of the ISS (men and women of various specialties, including engineers, military and civilians) to keep personal journals in electronic form, making entries in them at least three times a week. It was noticed that most often the subjects wrote about such ten things as work, communication with the outside world, adaptation, group interaction, recreation / leisure,equipment, events, organization / management, sleep and food. The results of the subsequent analysis of personal diaries showed that the conditions on the International Space Station, although considered to be more than tolerant, are far from ideal and lead to psychological problems in the long run.
8. Resistive Simulator
A few years ago, NASA scientists developed the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device “smart” resistive simulator (pictured above), which gives the crew of the ISS the opportunity to perform strength exercises in a space environment. Training with weights helps reduce the loss of bone density and muscle mass, which astronauts experience during a long stay in space.
9. Squids in space
In September of this year, Hawaiian short-tailed squids (Euprymna scolopes) traveled to the International Space Station as part of an experiment whose goal was to study the effect of microgravity on the development of micro-dependent animals. As soon as the marine inhabitants got on the ISS, they were placed on symbiotic bacteria. A day later, scientists, carefully examining squid, found that microorganisms have already begun to colonize them.
10. My germs grow better than yours.
In March 2014, scientists at the University of California at Davis took samples of microorganisms collected in various places (museums, football stadiums and others), placed them in Petri dishes and, waiting for them to form colonies in the incubator, delivered 48 of the most successful of them to ISS. The purpose of the study is to study the behavior of microorganisms in microgravity conditions in order to know whether it will be safe to send people (along with their microbes) on a spacecraft on a long journey to the planet Mars. At the end of the experiment, 48 samples will be analyzed and compared with identical cultures developed on Earth.
11. Behavior of fluid in space
In space, particles of liquid move differently than on Earth, but the physics of this movement is not yet clear enough. Scientists at the Florida State Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Space Center conducted a series of experiments on the ISS related to the dynamics of fluid splashing using robotic satellites that can independently navigate and move in space.In the future, researchers plan to develop an external fuel tank in order to better study the properties of a fluid in outer space and thereby make safer rockets.
12. Ant farm
In September 2014, eight small anthills with hundreds of inhabitants each were sent to the ISS, where scientists, using cameras and special software, analyzed their movement and level of interaction. The obtained information on the behavior of ants in microgravity conditions can be used to construct various algorithms or solve certain mathematical problems. For example, “ant” algorithms could help scientists develop cheaper and more effective strategies for robotic search and intelligence.