NASA and SpaceX kick off climate science research, more on the space station
Faster aging of the immune system
Aging is associated with changes in the immune response known as immunosenescence. Microgravity causes changes in human immune cells that resemble this condition but occur faster than the actual aging process on Earth. The Immunosenescence The survey, sponsored by the US National Laboratory on the International Space Station, uses tissue chips to study how microgravity affects immune function during flight and whether immune cells recover after flight. Tissue chips are small devices that contain human cells in a 3D structure, allowing scientists to test how these cells respond to stresses, drugs and genetic changes.
The ground in space
On Earth, complex communities of microorganisms perform key functions in the soil, including cycling carbon and other nutrients and supporting plant growth. Dynamics of microbiomes in space, sponsored by NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division, examines how microgravity affects metabolic interactions in communities of soil microbes. This research focuses on microbial communities that break down chitin, a natural carbon polymer on Earth.
Weather study for high school students
BeaverCube is an educational mission that will teach high school students about aerospace science by having them design a CubeSat. BeaverCube will house a visible and two infrared imagers to measure cloud properties, ocean surface temperatures, and ocean color to study Earth’s climate and weather systems. It will also demonstrate an application for the use of shape memory alloy technology via an in-orbit calibration technique.
Genes, not cells
Cell-free technology is a platform for producing proteins without specialized equipment from live cells that need to be cultured. Genes in space-9, sponsored by the National Lab, demonstrates cell-free protein production in microgravity and evaluates two cell-free biosensors capable of detecting specific target molecules. This technology could provide a simple, portable, and inexpensive tool for medical diagnostics, on-demand production of drugs and vaccines, and environmental monitoring on future space missions.
Biopolymer research for in situ capabilities examines how microgravity affects the process of creating an alternative to concrete made from organic material and in-place materials, such as lunar or Martian dust, known as a biopolymer soil composite. Using available resources where construction is taking place increases the amount of shielding.
These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being carried out aboard the orbiting laboratory in the fields of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and earth and space sciences. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low Earth orbit to the Earth. Moon and Mars via NASA Artemis program.
Learn more about SpaceX’s mission for NASA at: