Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ESA experiments with spaceflight participant Ansari to ISS

13.09.2006
Scheduled to lift off on 18 September 2006 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, along with Expedition 14 crew members, NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, Iranian-American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari will be the test subject for four ESA experiments during her stay on board the International Space Station.

The experiments in which Ansari will participate are in the area of human physiology: from the search of the effects of space radiation on the crew, to the investigation of the mechanisms governing the development of muscle atrophy in astronauts. The experiments aim to investigate the reaction of the human organism to the space environment, with the ultimate objective of optimizing the conditions for human permanence in space, and to cast light on common diseases affecting people on Earth.

The European Experiment Programme that is currently carried out by ESA on the International Space Station (ISS) covers a large range of scientific disciplines, which encompass physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, psychology and related topics.

Astronauts on board the ISS have a very busy schedule, performing every day experiments on behalf of scientists on Earth, and acting as subjects of experiments themselves.

A number of experiments - especially in the area of human physiology - fall under a long-term plan and require a high number of observations to be carried out in various sessions and on a considerable number of different subjects. For this reason such experiments involve not only the permanent crew of the ISS, currently constituting three members, but also short term visitors, who are regularly ferried to the Station with the Soyuz or with the Shuttle.

This is the case for ESA astronauts, who normally perform a series of experiments during their short missions to the ISS. In 2005, it was Spaceflight Participant Gregory Olsen who acted as a subject for ESA experiments in the frame of an agreement between ESA and Space Adventures, the company who organises the participation to spaceflight missions for private explorers. Soon it will be the turn of the next spaceflight participant Anousheh Ansari to contribute to ESA’s scientific programme.

Effect of space radiation on the human body: Chromosome-2 Experiment

During space flights, crew members are constantly exposed to different types of radiation. Such radiation damages the cellular DNA, and may induce mutations, which could be associated with an enhanced risk of developing cancer. Induced mutations can be analyzed in lymphocytes (white blood cells): the Chromosome-2 Experiment studies chromosome change and sensitivity to radiation in lymphocytes of ISS crew members, with the objective to assess the genetic impact of radiation on the crew.

The quality of the radiation field cannot be simulated on Earth and it is therefore necessary to conduct the analyses in the space environment. The results of the study will enable a better assessment of the genetic risk for humans in space and, in the long-term, will contribute to optimise radiation shielding for future space exploration missions.

Ansari will act as a test subject providing blood samples before and after her flight.

Looking for bacteria onboard the ISS: SAMPLE Experiment

The danger of contamination by pathogenic organisms is a serious problem on space missions. In weightlessness, some bacteria grow faster than under conditions on Earth, and they are much more antibiotic resistant. However, it is not known whether and to which extent this different behaviour of bacteria could affect the health of the crew or damage technical equipment on board.

The SAMPLE experiment's aim is to investigate what kind of microbial species are to be found on board the International Space Station and how these adapt to space environment conditions. Ansari will take samples from herself and from certain areas of the Station, by rubbing swab sticks over surfaces susceptible to having bacteria, for example switches, keyboards and personal hygiene equipment.

Where does back pain come from? Low Back Pain Experiment

In the weightless conditions of space, astronauts often experience some form of lower back pain. This is extraordinary since, on Earth, back pain is associated with heavy spinal load, mainly as a consequence of gravity.

Scientists have therefore developed a hypothesis that lower back pain may develop without compression of the vertebrae. The explanation of the problem comes from the fact that the lower part of the vertebrae, the sacral bone, has to be kept in position between the two hipbones. And a deep ‘muscle corset’ plays an important role in this process, with the tonic postural muscles being activated when getting up in the morning and deactivated when resting.

It is hypothesised that this protective mechanism does not work in space. In space astronauts’ bones lose calcium and strength, their muscles lose mass: therefore, it is thought that the deep muscle corset atrophies during spaceflight, leading to strain in certain ligaments, in particular in the lower region in the back, and causing as a consequence low back pain in astronauts.

The Low Back Pain experiment aims at studying the development of low back pain on crews during spaceflight, with the objective to assess the level of atrophy in the deep muscle corset in response to exposure to microgravity.

Ansari will complete a daily questionnaire during her flight reporting on back complaints. The results will be compared with similar pre-flight and post-flight ground measurements, in order to obtain a better understanding of the correlation between muscle use/disuse and back pain, which would be useful for developing countermeasures for this problem not only in space but also on Earth.

What are the causes of anaemia? NEOCYTOLYSIS experiment

The NEOCYTOLYSIS experiment aims at studying the effects of weightlessness on the hemopoietic system, the system of the body responsible for the formation of blood cells.

The experiment will study a process called neocytolysis, i.e. the selective destruction of young red blood cells. This process has been observed in astronauts as an adaptive response of the body to the specific condition of weightlessness. In space, in absence of gravity, the blood which is normally held in the extremities by gravity shifts centrally, causing high red cells density in blood vessels in the upper part of the body; this induces a response, which aims at resetting the mass of red blood cells by means of their selective destruction, and that causes in turn a temporary anaemia in astronauts over the first days after landing.

This process is therefore regarded for astronauts as a natural response to specific environmental conditions. However, it may also occur in pathological conditions, for example as anaemia in patients affected by renal failure. The experiment will be therefore of crucial importance for casting light and possibly for contributing to the development of solutions for this serious disease.

Ansari will act as a test subject providing blood samples before and after her flight.

Maurizio Belingheri | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaHS/SEMQRH7LURE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions
18.12.2018 | Eindhoven University of Technology

nachricht NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate
18.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists found a correlation between the structure and magnetic properties of ceramics

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Unique insights into an exotic matter state

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Physicists studied the influence of magnetic field on thin film structures

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>