by Jenny Howard for ISS Science News
Houston TX (SPX) May 22, 2017
SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft for its eleventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station June 1 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center's historic pad 39A. Dragon will lift into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crewmembers living aboard the station.
The flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study neutron stars, osteoporosis, solar panels, tools for Earth-observation, and more. Here are some highlights of research that will be delivered to the orbiting laboratory:
Solar panels are an efficient way to generate power, but they can be delicate and large when used to power a spacecraft or satellites. They are often tightly stowed for launch and then must be unfolded when the spacecraft reaches orbit.
The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), is a solar panel concept that is lighter and stores more compactly for launch than the rigid solar panels currently in use. ROSA has solar cells on a flexible blanket and a framework that rolls out like a tape measure. The technology for ROSA is one of two new solar panel concepts that were developed by the Solar Electric Propulsion project, sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate.
The new solar panel concepts are intended to provide power to electric thrusters for use on NASA's future space vehicles for operations near the Moon and for missions to Mars and beyond. They might also be used to power future satellites in Earth orbit, including more powerful commercial communications satellites. The demonstration of the deployment of ROSA on the space station is sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Investigation studies composition of neutron stars
These stars are called "pulsars" because of the unique way they emit light - in a beam similar to a lighthouse beacon. As the star spins, the light sweeps past us, making it appear as if the star is pulsing. The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explored (NICER) payload, affixed to the exterior of the space station, studies the physics of these stars, providing new insight into their nature and behavior.
Neutron stars emit X-ray radiation, enabling the NICER technology to observe and record information about its structure, dynamics and energetics. In addition to studying the matter within the neutron stars, the payload also includes a technology demonstration called the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT), which will help researchers to develop a pulsar-based, space navigation system. Pulsar navigation could work similarly to GPS on Earth, providing precise position for spacecraft throughout the solar system.
Investigation studies effect of new drug on osteoporosis
The Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for osteoporosis (Rodent Research-5) investigation tests a new drug that can both rebuild bone and block further bone loss, improving health for crew members.
Exposure to microgravity creates a rapid change in bone health, similar to what happens in certain bone-wasting diseases, during extended bed rest and during the normal aging process. The results from this ISS National Laboratory-sponsored investigation build on previous research also supported by the National Institutes for Health and could lead to new drugs for treating bone density loss in millions of people on Earth.
Research seeks to understand the heart of the matter
The Fruit Fly Lab-02 study will use the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to better understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity on the heart.
Flies are smaller, with a well-known genetic make-up, and very rapid aging that make them good models for studying heart function. This experiment will help to develop a microgravity heart model in the fruit fly. Such a model could significantly advance the study of spaceflight effects on the cardiovascular system and facilitate the development of countermeasures to prevent the adverse effects of space travel on astronauts.
Investigation shapes the way humans survive in space
The Capillary Structures investigation studies a new method of water recycling and carbon dioxide removal using structures designed in specific shapes to manage fluid and gas mixtures. As opposed to the expensive, machine-based processes currently in use aboard the station, the Capillary Structures equipment is made up of small, 3-D printed geometric shapes of varying sizes that clip into place.
Using time lapse photography, on-ground research teams will observe how liquids evaporate from these capillary structures, testing the effectiveness of the varying parameters. Results from the investigation could lead to the development of new processes that are simple, trustworthy, and highly reliable in the case of an electrical failure or other malfunction.
Facility provides platform for Earth-observation tools
This National Lab-sponsored investigation can produce data to be used for maritime domain awareness, agricultural awareness, food security, disaster response, air quality, oil and gas exploration and fire detection.
Washington DC (SPX) May 19, 2017
Pursuant to their shared goal of continuing to advance bilateral space cooperation and further strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance as declared by their leaders, the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan held their Fourth Meeting of the Comprehensive Dialogue on Space in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2017. This Dialogue represents the strong and shared commitmen ... read more
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