2nd December 2022
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Three Space Station Experiments Will Support Deep-Space Missions

NASA Experiment

NASA reports that astronauts may be able to go further and remain in space for longer thanks to research on dwarf tomatoes, intestinal bacteria, and amorphous metals.

The Biological and Physical Sciences Division of NASA is going to take on three challenges: maintaining astronaut health, having a constant supply of fresh food, and creating better spaceship materials.

Two significant space biology investigations and one physical sciences investigation will be carried aboard the cargo Dragon spacecraft when SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission for NASA blasts off to the International Space Station. These investigations will advance our knowledge of how crew can survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of deep space.

A Secure Setting

As scientists increase their understanding of how to make the enclosed conditions within spacecraft safe during long-distance trips, the health and safety of astronauts remain a primary issue. The Alteration of Bacillus Subtilis DNA Architecture in Space: Global Effects on DNA Supercoiling, Methylation, and the Transcriptome (BRIC-26) investigation will examine how microbial cells react to the space environment and is related to the significance of microbes in preserving astronaut health in space.

Food items frequently contain the probiotic gut bacteria Bacillus subtilis (B. substilis) to aid in the prevention of foodborne illness. Additionally, this bacteria is utilized to treat ailments of the digestive system, the skin, and joint lubrication. It has already demonstrated the ability to resist harsh climatic conditions on Earth and in space, mostly because of its capacity to generate an endospore, a strong, protective structure.

Following growing in space, B. substilis’ DNA structure will be examined by BRIC-26. This study will help us understand how the environment of spaceflight influences cellular results, which in turn affects the wellbeing of humans on board a spaceship as well as their ecology. The findings of this study will pave the way for groundbreaking research in the field of microbiology and promote the ability of the crew to thrive in deep space.

Successful Produce

For lengthy exploratory trips, a healthy, balanced meal is crucial. The next phase in efforts to address the demand for a continuous fresh-food production system for working astronauts in space is the Pick-and-Eat Salad-Crop Productivity, Nutritional Value, and Acceptability to Supplement the International Space Station Food System (VEG-05) research.

The majority of the food consumed by astronauts is prepackaged, and they are regularly restocked by resupply flights. However, on lengthy voyages to Mars and beyond, pre-packaged meals will decay, and astronauts won’t have quick access to refill supplies. Crews will require sustainable food supplies as people travel further and remain in space for extended periods of time.

To satisfy this demand, tests are now supported on the space station by the Vegetable Production System (Veggie). This space garden has so far been effective in growing lush greens while in orbit. The Human Study Program and NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division are both funding the research on VEG-05, which will increase agricultural diversity by introducing tiny tomatoes. The influence of light quality and fertilizer on fruit production, microbiological food safety, nutritional value, behavioral health benefits, and a crew tasting test will be the main topics of this inquiry.

Famous FAMIS

Expanding and constructing future Earth-based and space technologies require the creation of novel materials. By examining the microstructure of composites made of bulk metallic glass (BMG) and tungsten spheres processed in microgravity, the Fabrication of Amorphous Metallic glass in Space (FAMIS) investigation seeks to accomplish precisely that.

It is already well known that BMGs, commonly referred to as amorphous metals, offer exceptional mechanical qualities including wear resistance. The strongest naturally occurring metal on Earth, tungsten is more resistant to wear and tear than steel and titanium. A new class of high-performance alloys and coatings might be produced by combining tungsten and BMGs to build composites, which could ultimately lengthen the lifespan of spacecraft and enhance wear resistance in hostile settings like the Moon.

New techniques for producing tungsten-heavy alloys for use in planetary exploration spacecraft will also be investigated for FAMIS. The space station’s microgravity environment is the perfect place for this research because combining the two is difficult in Earth’s gravity due to their substantial density differences.

Image provided by NASA

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