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Juggling Atom-Chilling Physics and Immunity Mysteries on the Space Station

The sun’s first rays burst through the Earth’s atmosphere in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 264 miles above the Pacific Ocean northwest of New Zealand. Credit: NASA

Ultra-cold space physics and immunity research were the top science objectives aboard the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, November 27. The seven-member Expedition 70 crew is also stepping up its cargo operations this week while continuing to maintain lab systems.

The coldest place in the universe may just be the orbital outpost’s Cold Atom Lab, a quantum research device that chills atoms to near absolute zeroAbsolute zero is the theoretical lowest temperature on the thermodynamic temperature scale. At this temperature, all atoms of an object are at rest and the object does not emit or absorb energy. The internationally agreed-upon value for this temperature is −273.15 °C (−459.67 °F; 0.00 K).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>absolute zero, lower than the average temperature of space. NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli configured components and installed hardware for a controller test of the facility that provides unique observations of atomic wave functions seen at extremely low temperatures not possible on Earth.

Nile River Winds Through Sudan From ISS

This view of Earth shows the White Nile River leading to the Nile River and winding through the African nation of Sudan. The dark spot at top left, is the Jebel Al Dair National Park containing a variety of mountains in the southern portion of Sudan. Credit: NASA

Moghbeli also assisted Commander Andreas Mogensen inside the Columbus laboratory module setting up the Kubik incubator first thing Monday morning. Next, Mogensen from ESA (European Space AgencyThe European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration and study of space. ESA was established in 1975 and has 22 member states, with its headquarters located in Paris, France. ESA is responsible for the development and coordination of Europe's space activities, including the design, construction, and launch of spacecraft and satellites for scientific research and Earth observation. Some of ESA's flagship missions have included the Rosetta mission to study a comet, the Gaia mission to create a 3D map of the Milky Way, and the ExoMars mission to search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>European Space Agency) collected and processed his blood and saliva samples for the Immunity Assay biology study that is exploring cellular immunity in space. Afterward, he placed a set of samples inside a science freezer and placed another set inside Kubik for later analysis.

Astronauts Loral O’Hara and Satoshi Furukawa focused mainly on maintenance throughout Monday. O’Hara spent the afternoon inspecting the COLBERT treadmill in the Tranquility module. She photographed and cleaned components, checked pin alignment and treadmill slats, and greased axles. Furukawa from JAXAFormed in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). JAXA performs various activities related to aerospace, from basic research in the aerospace field to development and utilization and is responsible for research, technology development, and launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in advanced missions such as asteroid exploration and possible human exploration of the Moon.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) worked in the Kibo laboratory module servicing gear that cools and rejects heat from equipment to ensure a safe operating environment aboard the space station.

Tokyo City Lights From ISS

The vibrant city lights of Tokyo were pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above. Credit: NASA

Furukawa later partnered with Mogensen and Moghbeli loading cargo inside the SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>SpaceX Dragon spacecraft docked to the Harmony module’s forward port. The Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived on November 11 carrying about 6,500 pounds of gear including advanced science hardware to study laser communications and atmospheric gravity waves. Dragon is due to return to Earth in mid-December packed with hardware and completed science experiments for retrieval and analysis.

The Roscosmos Progress 84 resupply ship will end its mission when it departs on Wednesday after six months docked to the Poisk module. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub packed trash and discarded gear inside the departing Progress that will reenter the atmosphere above the South Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe disposal. It will be replaced when the Progress 86, packed with nearly 5,600 pounds of cargo, launches at 4:25 a.m. EDTEDT is an abbreviation for Eastern Daylight Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing daylight saving time (spring/summer). It is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>EDT on Friday and automatically docks to Poisk at 6:14 a.m. on Sunday.

Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko started his day pointing a specialized camera toward Earth to gain atmospheric and climatic data. Next, he studied how fluid systems are affected by spaceflight conditions such as electrical and magnetic fields. First-time space flyer Konstantin Borisov began Monday servicing a variety of life support and communications gear. During the afternoon, he collected air samples throughout the station’s RoscosmosRoscosmos, also known as the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, is the Russian government agency responsible for space activities, including the development and operation of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and space stations. It was formed in 2015 through the merger of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the United Rocket and Space Corporation. Roscosmos is responsible for Russia's space program and works closely with other international space agencies on joint projects, such as the International Space Station. The agency is also involved in a wide range of space-related activities, including scientific research, earth observation, telecommunications, and manned spaceflight.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Roscosmos modules for chemical analysis.

Source: SciTechDaily