ISS Utilization: Sample imagery
ISS Utilization: Sample imagery taken by astronauts on and from the ISS + Events
This file is a loose collection of some imagery samples taken by astronauts off and from the ISS (International Space Station). Astronauts who experience Earth from orbit often report feelings of awe and wonder, of being transformed by what they describe as the magic such a perspective brings. This phenomenon is called the "overview effect." The short descriptions in the following entries are presented in reverse order .
Note: As of June 2019, the previously large ISS-Imagery2 and ISS-Imagery files have been split into four files, to make the file handling manageable for all parties concerned, in particular for the user community.
• This article covers the ISS-Imagery plus some status in the period 2019 and 2020
Mission status and sample imagery of 2019 and 2020
• February 6, 2020: Setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) landed on Earth at 4:12 a.m. EST in Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft at 12:50 a.m. 1)
- For Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov, this landing completed a 201-day stay in space, 3,216 orbits of Earth and a journey of 85.2 million miles.
- Koch's first journey into space became a 328-day mission in which she orbited Earth 5,248 times, a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the Moon and back. She conducted and supported more than 210 investigations during Expeditions 59, 60, and 61, including as a research subject volunteer to provide scientists the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars.
- One particular research project in which Koch participated is the Vertebral Strength investigation, which better defines the extent of spaceflight-induced bone and muscle degradation of the spine, and the associated risk for broken vertebrae. This timely endeavor is expected to provide insight into the development of future countermeasures, such as preventative medicine or exercise. These results also could provide recommendations for limiting the amount of force astronauts are subjected to during launch.
- Koch lived in space with four fellow NASA astronauts and classmates: Anne McClain, Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan, and Jessica Meir as well as four Russian cosmonauts, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Figure 1: Astronaut Christina Koch smiles as she gives a "thumbs up" sign shortly after being extracted from the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship that brought her home after 328 days in space (image credit: NASA TV)
• February 6, 2020: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano returned to Earth today alongside NASA astronaut Christina Koch and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, marking the end of his second six-month International Space Station mission known as ‘Beyond'. 2)
- Returning in the same Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft that flew Luca, Alexander and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan to the Space Station on 20 July 2019, the trio touched down in about 30 cm of snow in the Kazakh Steppe on 6 February at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET), as scheduled. The Soyuz landed upright and all three crew members emerged from the module smiling and looking well.
- Luca will now fly directly to Cologne, Germany, where he will continue to be monitored by ESA's space medicine team as he readapts to Earth's gravity at ESA's European Astronaut Center (EAC) and DLR's ‘:envihab' facility.
- Luca's return to Earth marks the successful conclusion of his Beyond mission. During this mission Luca became the third European and first Italian in command of the ISS, performed four complex spacewalks to maintain the cosmic-ray-detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02, gained the European record for most cumulative hours spent spacewalking at 33 hours and 9 minutes, remotely operated a rover in the Netherlands as part of the Analog-1 experiment, delivered an important climate change message to leaders at the UN climate change conference in Madrid, and supported over 50 European experiments as well as 200 international experiments in space.
Figure 2: The 3500 m2 :envihab building in Cologne is near ESA's EAC (European Astronaut Center) on the research campus of DLR German Aerospace Center in Cologne, Germany. It houses specialized laboratories for studying the effects of extreme environmental conditions on humans. Eight modules, built as a 'house-within-a-house', include a short-arm centrifuge that can be used for cardiovascular, bone and muscle research. There are also laboratories for studying the effects of reduced oxygen and pressure on humans, MRI facilities, rooms for psychological stress simulation and rehabilitation, and microbiological and molecular biological research tools, as well as places to house and monitor test subjects. (image credit: ESA, Andreas Schütz)
- Thursday 6 February marked day 201 of his Beyond mission and Luca has now spent 367 noncumulative days in space across two missions – this is the longest of any ESA astronaut.
- Back on Earth, Luca will continue working with European researchers on experiments including Acoustic Diagnostics that looks into the impact of the Space Station environment on astronaut hearing, the TIME experiment that looks at whether astronauts judge time differently in space, and two experiments known as Grip and GRASP that look into the physiology behind eye-hand coordination and the role of gravity in regulating grip force, among others.
Figure 3: Early image of ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano back on Earth at the Soyuz MS-13 landing site, following his six-month Beyond mission on the International Space Station (photo credit: ESA)
- The findings of research conducted as part of Luca's Beyond mission will help shape the future of human and robotic exploration while enhancing technological developments on Earth.
• February 4, 2020: The crew aboard the ISS (International Space Station) is preparing to split up while also getting ready for a U.S. space delivery. 3)
- NASA astronaut Christina Koch is packing up and cleaning her crew quarters today ahead of her return to Earth early Thursday. She will board the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship on Wednesday about 9:30 p.m. EST with crewmates Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency).
- The trio will undock Thursday at 12:50 a.m. then parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 4:12 a.m. (3:12 p.m. Kazakh time). NASA TV begins its live coverage Wednesday at 9 p.m. when the departing crew says farewell to their station counterparts and closes the Soyuz hatch.
- This will cap a 328-day-long mission for Koch that began on March 14. She is now in second place for the single longest spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut surpassed only by former astronaut Scott Kelly with 340 days during his final station mission.
- Expedition 62 will officially begin when Koch and her Expedition 61 crewmates undock from the Poisk module. Continuing their stay in space will be Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan. They will end their stay aboard the orbiting lab and return to Earth in April.
- Meir and Morgan are getting ready for another mission that begins Sunday when Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo craft lifts off at 5:39 p.m. It will rendezvous with the station Tuesday where the duo will be in the cupola to capture Cygnus at 3:30 a.m. with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
Figure 4: Clockwise from left are, NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano. Parmitano is the Expedition 61 Commander leading Flight Engineers Koch, Morgan and Meir aboard the International Space Station (image credit: NASA)
• February 4, 2020: After six months on the International Space Station and just over four as commander, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will return to Earth together with US astronaut Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov in the Soyuz-MS13 spacecraft. 4)
- The trio will land in the steppes of Kazakhstan on Thursday 6 February.
- Return to Earth: The ride home for Luca, Christina and Alexander is shorter than the ride up: after six months in space, and a whole year for Christina, it is less than four hours from undocking to landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan.
- Shortly after undocking, the Soyuz spacecraft separates into three parts. The orbital and service modules burn up on reentry in the denser layers of Earth's atmosphere. The descent module turns to position its heatshield towards the direction of reentry, so that it can handle the 1600°C created by the friction with our atmosphere.
- Reentry starts at an altitude of about 120 km, when their cruising speed of 28,800 km/h is reduced dramatically and the crew are pushed back into their seats with a force of 4–5 g. This is equivalent to four to five times their own body weight.
- Parachutes deploy to reduce speed even more and the astronauts sit in custom-fitted seats that absorb the shock of impact. At the last moment, retrorockets fire before touchdown to limit the impact to around 5 km/h.
- After landing, the crew deploy a communication antenna, so that the rescue teams can pinpoint them, but usually search and rescue teams are already on site to retrieve the space voyagers.
- The spacecraft is cramped and astronauts return to Earth in a weakened state, so pulling the crew out of their capsule one by one can take some time.
Figure 5: Soyuz MS spacecraft infographic - Modules and Specs (image credit: ESA)
Figure 6: International Space Station with Soyuz. This image taken by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano from outside the International Space Station on the second spacewalk to service the cosmic ray detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) on 22 November 2019. The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft that bought Luca, NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and Roscosmos commander Alexander Skvortsov to space is visible docked to the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station. Due to the AMS worksite being difficult to reach on top of the Station's S3 Truss structure between a pair of solar arrays and radiators, Luca travelled to and from the site on the end of the robotic arm operated by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir from inside the Station (image credit: ESA–Luca Parmitano, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)
• February 2, 2020: Using a short lens, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured this expansive view of 800 kilometers (500 miles) of Peru's coastline. The wide viewing angle gives the impression of a near-vertical view in the foreground and a distinctly oblique view at the top. 5)
- The steep-sided, 2800-meter (9,200-foot) deep Cotahuasi Canyon and the white icecap of Nevado Coropuna volcano (6425 meters or 21,079 feet) stand in the foreground. The lighter-toned Atacama Desert hugs the coast, bordered inland by the darker-toned rocks of the high Andes Mountains.
- The Andean plateau, mainly under cloud on this day, rises 4000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level, with volcanic peaks (such as Corapuna) rising much higher. Numerous steep-sided canyons descend from the plateau to the coast. The rivers that cut these canyons provide water for irrigating agricultural fields in the desert. (The farmlands appear as darker patches amid the tan of the desert.)
- The Sun's reflection off of the Pacific Ocean reveals wind streaks produced by the strong southerly winds. Inland, Laguna Parinacochas is distinctly visible because it also reflects the Sun.
- In the distance, almost invisible under a layer of smog, lies the capital city of Lima.
Figure 7: The astronaut photograph ISS059-E-39541 was acquired on May 1, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 50 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 59 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by M. Justin Wilkinson)
• January 27, 2020: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano (middle) and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan (left) work on get-ahead tasks during the fourth spacewalk to service the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). 6)
- Saturday's spacewalk, which lasted five hours and 55 minutes, was the last in a four-part series to extend the life of the particle physics detector that was not designed to be maintained in space.
- Installed on the outside of the International Space Station in 2011, the instrument out-lived its three-year mission time to provide researchers with invaluable data on cosmic rays that bombard our planet. When the cooling pumps for AMS-02 began to fail, plans were made to service the instrument in space and give it a new lease on life and science.
- During the first three spacewalks Luca and Drew replaced the old cooling system with a new one using a tube-tying technique known as swagging that was quite the feat to perform in space gloves.
- On this final spacewalk, where Drew held the lead role of EV1, the pair set out to check the tubes that connect the cooling system to the larger instrument for any leaks.
- When a leak was found in tube number five, Luca tightened this connection and waited around an hour before checking the tube again. Upon this second check, a leak was still present, but thankfully after re tightening once more and waiting again the leak was overcome and the system was declared leak-free.
- In between these leak checks, the duo worked on get-ahead tasks, activities that often set the stage for future spacewalks, should the astronauts have extra time on their hands.
- Once all leaks were addressed, Luca and Drew wrapped things up by installing a mud flap between the new pump and vertical support beam before removing a cover known as a shower cap to expose the new radiator system.
- Five hours and two minutes into Saturday's spacewalk, Luca broke the European record for the most time spent spacewalking. He has now clocked in 33 hours and nine minutes, beating previous record holder Swedish ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang's 31 hours and 54 minutes.
Figure 8: NASA astronaut Drew Morgan (left) and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano (middle) are seen in this photo on their last AMS-2 EVA (image credit: NASA, ESA)
• January 26, 2020: Two of the largest freshwater lakes in Turkey are featured in this photograph, taken by an astronaut from the International Space Station (ISS). Lake Beysehir and Lake Egirdir are situated in the Turkish Lakes Region, a highly active tectonic area on the Anatolia Plateau.
- There are several shallow lakes in the region that are replenished through precipitation, limestone springs and streams, and runoff from the Sultan Mountains. The water levels of these lakes change seasonally, mainly due to their usage as a drinking water source and as irrigation for local agriculture. As water levels drop, the light-colored limestone sediments on the lake beds become more apparent, giving the water a lighter color (as with Lake Beysehir, Figure 9).
- Lake Beysehir and Lake Egirdir have been designated by global conservation organizations as important bird and plant habitats. At least 181 bird species use the shorelines and small islands within the lakes as nesting and breeding grounds.
Figure 9: This astronaut photograph ISS061-E-14342 was acquired on October 26, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 95 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Sara Schmidt)
• January 25, 2020: Expedition 61 crew members Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) concluded their spacewalk at 1:20 p.m. EST. During the 6 hour, 16 minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully completed leak checks for the cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and opened a valve to being pressurizing the system. Preliminary testing shows AMS-02 is responding as expected. 7)
Figure 10: A helmet camera attached to the spacesuit of astronaut Andrew Morgan pictures astronaut Luca Parmitano during the final spacewalk to repair a cosmic ray detector AMS-02 (image credit: NASA)
- Ground teams will work over the next several days to fill the new AMS thermal control system with carbon dioxide, allow the system to stabilize, and power on the pumps to verify and optimize their performance. The tracker, one of several detectors on AMS-02, should be collecting science data again before the end of next week. The upgraded cooling system is expected to support AMS-02 through the lifetime of the space station.
- The astronauts also completed an additional task to remove degraded lens filters on two high-definition video cameras.
- This was the fourth spacewalk by Morgan and Parmitano to repair the spectrometer and the 227th in support of station assembly, maintenance and upgrades. For Morgan, it was the seventh spacewalk of his career, for a total of 45 hours and 48 minutes, and the sixth for Parmitano, with a total of 33 hours and 9 minutes, who will return to Earth Feb. 6 in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to complete a six-and-a-half month mission on the outpost. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 59 days 12 hours and 26 minutes working outside the station. This was also the ninth spacewalk for the Expedition 61 crew, more than in any other increment in the history of the station.
• On January 22, 2020, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of resuspended ash near Taal Volcano island. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, strong low-level winds lifted ash lying on the volcano, and sent it streaming southwest toward the town of Dacanlao. Following an eruption in early January 2020, Taal remains on a Level 4 alert, with a hazardous eruption still possible. 8)
Figure 11: Low-level winds lifted ash lying on and around the volcano after its recent eruption. The astronaut photograph ISS061-E-138244 was acquired on January 22, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 210 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, Text by Kasha Patel)
• January 22, 2020: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is returning to Earth after six months on the International Space Station. He will land with Alexander Skvortsov and Christina Koch in Kazakhstan on 6 February 2020 after 201 days in space. Luca will fly directly to ESA's European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne for an expected arrival around 21:00 GMT (22:00 CET). 9)
- Luca was launched into space on 20 July 2019 in a Soyuz spacecraft with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. His seven-month mission saw him take command of the International Space Station and conduct complex spacewalks to repair the cosmic-particle-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer instrument, AMS-02.
- Luca supported more than 50 European experiments and 200 international experiments in space. Other highlights were Luca making the first ‘live DJ session' in Earth orbit, addressing world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 25 and talking to Nobel Laureates about exoplanets and the chemistry of batteries.
• January 22, 2020: Sometimes doing science is as simple as wiping up. NASA astronaut Jack Fisher is seen here using a wet wipe on the surfaces of the European Cupola module of the International Space Station. 10)
- Doubling as both Station maintenance and science experiment, Jack collected microbes living on the surfaces of his orbital home for ESA's Extremophiles experiment. Headed by Dr. Christine-Moissl Eichinger from the Medical University of Graz, Austria, the experiment studies how microbes settle into the harsh environment of space.
- Cosmic radiation exposes not only humans but also bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms to cellular stress. A typical stay in microgravity for an astronaut weakens the immune system and causes more health issues, prompting researchers to ask whether the same was happening to microbiomes, or the organisms found in a particular environment, and whether they resist treatment, becoming ‘super bugs.'
- Because the Space Station is a closed environment, microbes can only arrive with new crew and cargo. The Station has accumulated a core group of 55 microbes over 20 years of continuous human inhabitants.
- Researchers tested these against microbes found in a similar environment on Earth: spacecraft cleanrooms. They found that space-based microbes did not have a higher resistance and were not more stressed than Earth-based ones.
- In short, microbes are no more extremophilic – able to survive in uninhabitable environments – in the weightless and radiative environment of space. The results were recently published in a paper in Nature Communications. 11)
- Interestingly, researchers found that space-based microbiomes can react negatively to metal surfaces, especially when those surfaces are wet. As they struggle to adapt to their environment, they attack the metal surfaces they find themselves on by corroding them or creating biofilm.
- Researchers and crew are monitoring the situation by keeping metal surfaces dry and easily accessible for regular cleaning and sampling.
- After all, there is no getting rid of microbes or any need to. They are a fact of human life.
Figure 12: Microbial wipe down (image credit: ESA/NASA)
• January 20, 2020: At 1:33 p.m. EST, Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA concluded their third spacewalk together. During the six hour and 58-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully completed the battery upgrade for one channel on one pair of the station's solar arrays. 12)
- Today's work included removing the last two nickel-hydrogen batteries from this area of the station's backbone near the port solar array and moving them to an external platform. The batteries will be stored there until they can be disposed of in the next Japanese HTV cargo spacecraft after it delivers tons of supplies to the space station later this year. Meir and Koch also installed the sixth and final new lithium-ion battery, and ground controllers verified the new batteries powered up successfully to provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for station operations.
- The spacewalkers concluded their work by paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Meir said he was a personal hero and looking down on planet Earth reminded her of his words: "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." Koch noted how much is owed to those who worked for civil rights and inclusion and "paved the way for not only us, but so many who have a dream."
- This was the second spacewalk outside the station in 2020. Space station crew members have now conducted 226 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have spent a total of 59 days, 6 hours, and 10 minutes working outside the station. It is the third time all spacewalkers have been women and the 45th spacewalk to include women.
- NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and space station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will conduct the next spacewalk Saturday, Jan. 25, to finish installing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer's (AMS) new cooling apparatus and lines and verify they are ready for use. Morgan and Parmitano began that work during three spacewalks in November and December 2019.
- Today's spacewalk was the third for Meir, who now has spent a total of 21 hours and 44 minutes spacewalking, and the sixth for Koch for a total of 42 hours and 15 minutes. Koch is third place behind Peggy Whitson and Suni Williams for cumulative time by a female spacewalker and 21st on the all-time spacewalk list for aggregate time.
- Koch arrived to the orbiting laboratory in March 2019 and is nearing the end of an extended duration mission. She holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman and will return to Earth on Feb. 6. Her extended mission provides researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman to prepare for human missions to the Moon and Mars. Meir arrived in Sept. 2019 and is due to return in April.
Figure 13: NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock to complete a spacewalk after swapping batteries on the International Space Station that store and distribute solar power collected for the solar arrays (image credit: NASA)
• January 20, 2020: Every January, bits of asteroid 2003 EH1 cross paths with Earth's orbit to create a beautiful annual meteor shower: the Quadrantids. As the fragments collide with our atmosphere, they disintegrate and create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky. On January 4, 2020, astronauts saw the spectacle from above. 13)
- The composite image of Figure 14 was taken by astronaut Christina Koch as the International Space Station (ISS) passed over Edmonton, Canada, around 4:30 a.m. local time (11:30 UTC). She also captured an aurora over the region around the same time. The image of Figure 15 shows the position of the aurora in relation to the ISS orbit. The image was created using data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) "day-night band" from the Suomi NPP satellite and Black Marble data.
- "Meteors fly by the ISS all the time, but the astronauts don't see them. The meteor is just a little piece of rock, but it is so dark and moves so fast that you don't see it whiz by," said Bill Cooke, lead at the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office. "Astronauts see the meteors when they look down and see them burning up near Earth's atmosphere, appearing as streaks of light."
Figure 14: The astronaut photograph composite including ISS061-E-119857 was acquired on January 4, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 28 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image of the Quadrantids was taken by Christina Koch, a member of the Expedition 61 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, image by Joshua Stevens, Story by Kasha Patel)
- Quadrantids are generally faint but periodically have bright fireball meteors—large explosions of light and color. Fireballs last longer than the average meteor streak because they are born from larger pieces of material. The bright meteors in Koch's picture are fireballs. Even from space though, astronauts may struggle to see the flashes due to bright city lights below or from the moonlight, said Cooke.
- The Quadrantids differ from most meteor showers. While the majority of meteor showers originate from comets, the Quadrantids appear to come from an asteroid. As asteroid 2003 H1 travels around the Sun, it sheds dust. This dust gradually spreads into a debris trail, which Earth passes through in early January every year. Discovered in 2003, asteroid 2003 EH1 is small and measures only about two miles (three kilometers) in diameter. However, some scientists think it might be related to a dead comet called C/1490 Y1 or fall under a new type of object called a "rock comet."
Figure 15: This image was created using the VIIRS "day-night band" from Suomi NPP, showing the position of the aurora in relation to the ISS orbit (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)
- At its peak, the Quadrantids register around 80 meteors per hour observed in an area. Peak activity only lasts for a few hours (as opposed to days as with other meteor showers) because of the thinner stream of particles. Earth also crosses through the stream at a perpendicular angle. The meteors are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Astronaut Chris Hatfield once wrote that seeing a meteor from space was a "reminder of living in a shooting gallery." However, the chances of the ISS getting hit by a small meteor are low. Cooke says the ISS is armored against meteors and the odds of a meteor penetrating the station is very small. The greatest risk occurs when an astronaut is outside of the space station performing a spacewalk and could potentially come into contact with a small meteor. Cooke's office generates meteor forecasts to help assess the safety for astronauts venturing outside the station.
• January 19, 2020: The divide between lush forest and desert is striking in this photograph taken by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Meandering rivers and farmland comprise most of the lower right half of the photo, while the upper left shows part of the Atacama Desert just beyond the Andes Mountains. 14)
Figure 16: Astronaut photograph ISS061-E-40134 was acquired on November 13, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 65 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
- The Bermejo River originates in the Andes Mountains in Bolivia and flows into the Paraguay-Paraña Rivers. The Bermejo is notably lighter in color than other stream courses because of the abundance of sediment it carries. The river channel also moves regularly due to the combined processes of erosion and deposition along its banks, as evidenced by the meandering pattern.
- The Andes are one of the most biodiverse regions of the world. The small portion of the mountain range shown in this photo (from southwest Bolivia and northwest Argentina), provides a great example of the contrast between the high mountain desert and temperate Yungas and Chaco forests.
• January 14, 2020: The first of three spacewalks planned for January begins Wednesday to continue upgrading International Space Station power systems and a cosmic ray detector. While the spacewalkers ready their suits and tools, the rest of the Expedition 61 crew is on science and maintenance duty today. 15)
- NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir is partnering for a second time with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch for a pair of spacewalks set for January 15 and 20. The duo is finalizing preparations for the two six-and-a-half hour spacewalks to replace batteries that store and distribute solar power. They will set their U.S. spacesuits to internal power at 6:50 a.m. and translate out to the Port-6 truss structure. Once there they swap out old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries. NASA TV begins its live coverage Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. EST.
- A third spacewalk is planned for Jan. 25 with NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency). They will finish the thermal repair work on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer they began last year.
- Meanwhile, Morgan and Parmitano were on science duty today. The astronauts took turns safely burning fabric and acrylic samples to help scientists understand how flames spread in space. Results may inform the design of fire safety products and procedures on Earth and in space. The two crewmates also drew their blood samples, spinning them in a centrifuge for later analysis.
- Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov spent the day servicing Russian life support equipment. On the science schedule, cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka continued setting up and testing hardware that will observe the Earth's mesosphere at different wavelengths.
Figure 17: NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are pictured preparing to begin the historic first-ever all-female spacewalk on Oct. 18, 2019 (image credit: NASA)
• January 14, 2020: Another pair of eyes provides a sobering perspective on the fires ravaging Australia. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano took images such as this one on 12 January from his vantage point of the International Space Station. 16)
- From satellite imagery tracing smoke and pollution, to images from the ground depicting apocalyptic red skies, there is no denying the fires' devastating effect.
- Starting in New South Wales and extending into Victoria, the ferocious bushfires have been raging since September and are fuelled by record-breaking temperatures. In the midst of a climate crisis, 2019 was the hottest year on record in Australia and with drought and wind, the fires have raged beyond seasonal expectations.
- Winds have blown smoke over New Zealand and crossed the South Pacific Ocean, even reaching Chile and Argentina.
- A staggering 10 million hectares of land have been burned, at least 24 people have been killed and it has been reported that almost half a billion animals have perished.
- Damage to wildlife notwithstanding, the fires have had a serious effect on air quality. Earth observation satellites like Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor has traced increased concentrations of carbon monoxide in the past months along Australia's southeast coast.
Figure 18: This image was taken as the Station flew above Fraser Range, in Western Australia, near the Dundas Nature Reserve. Luca posted images of the fire to social media and said: "Talking to my crew mates, we realized that none of us had ever seen fires at such terrifying scale"(image credit: ESA)
- Astronaut photographs of Earth from space complement satellite imagery, allowing experts and the general public more insight on global events.
- Like Luca, the world continues to monitor the fires. If there is a silver lining around the smoke, it is the increased awareness of and calls for urgent action on climate change that is continuing to sweep the globe.
• January 5, 2020: An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph of stark desert contrasts in northwestern Chad. The geologically young, dark lava flows of the Toussidé volcano stand out from the older, lighter rocks of the Tibesti Mountains and the sands of the central Sahara Desert. 17)
- A large portion of the Tibesti Mountains is volcanic in origin. Successive effusive eruptions have formed extensive plateaus that cover older sedimentary rocks. Looking north of Toussidé (left in this image of Figure 19), erosion has helped carve the expansive network of canyons. Eolian activity has also played a role: that is, winds have brought lightly colored sands from the north into low-lying areas between the mountainous ridges.
- The contrast of color created by flows from Toussidé and other volcanoes in northern Africa has captured astronauts' attention for decades. The terrain of the Tibesti mountains is difficult to access, but remote sensing provides a useful means to perform geologic investigations here.
Figure 19: Geologically young, dark lava flows stand out from older, lighter rocks and the sands of the central Sahara. The astronaut photograph ISS060-E-77289 was acquired on September 23, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 95 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrew Britton)
• January 3, 2020: ISS astronaut successfully treated for blood clot on-orbit. Serena Auñón-Chancellor, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at LSU (Louisiana State University) Health New Orleans School of Medicine's branch campus in Baton Rouge, is the lead author of a paper describing a previously unrecognized risk of spaceflight discovered during a study of astronauts involved in long-duration missions. The paper details a case of stagnant blood flow resulting in a clot in the internal jugular vein of an astronaut stationed on the International Space Station. The paper is published in the January 2, 2020 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, available here. 18)
- "These new findings demonstrate that the human body still surprises us in space," notes Dr. Auñón-Chancellor, who also remains a member of NASA's Astronaut Corps and is board certified in both internal and aerospace medicine. "We still haven't learned everything about Aerospace Medicine or Space Physiology."
- Eleven astronauts were involved in the vascular study, which sought to help close gaps in knowledge about circulatory physiology that will not only benefit patients on Earth, but could be critical for the health of astronauts during future space exploration missions to the moon and Mars. The study measured the structure and function of the internal jugular vein in long-duration spaceflight where astronauts are exposed to sustained headward blood and tissue fluid shifts.
- Ultrasound examinations of the astronauts' internal jugular veins were performed at scheduled times in different positions during the mission. Results of the ultrasound performed about two months into the mission revealed a suspected obstructive left internal jugular venous thrombosis (blood clot) in one astronaut. The astronaut, guided in real time and interpreted by two independent radiologists on earth, performed a follow-up ultrasound, which confirmed the suspicion.
- Since NASA had not encountered this condition in space before, multiple specialty discussions weighed the unknown risks of the clot traveling and blocking a vessel against anticoagulation therapy in microgravity. The space station pharmacy had 20 vials containing 300 mg of injectable enoxaparin (a heparin-like blood thinner), but no anticoagulation-reversal drug. The injections posed their own challenges – syringes are a limited commodity, and drawing liquids from vials is a significant challenge because of surface-tension effects.
- The astronaut began treatment with the enoxaparin, initially at a higher dose that was reduced after 33 days to make it last until an oral anticoagulant (apixaban) could arrive via a supply spacecraft. Anticoagulation-reversing agents were also sent.
- Although the size of the clot progressively shrank and blood flow through the affected internal jugular segment could be induced at day 47, spontaneous blood flow was still absent after 90 days of anticoagulation treatment. The astronaut took apixaban until four days before the return to Earth.
- On landing, an ultrasound showed the remaining clot flattened to the vessel walls with no need for further anticoagulation. It was present for 24 hours after landing and gone 10 days later. Six months after returning to Earth, the astronaut remained asymptomatic.
- The astronaut had no personal or family history of blood clots and had not experienced headaches or the florid complexion common in weightless conditions. The changes in blood organization and flow, along with the prothrombotic risk uncovered in the study show the need for further research.
- Concludes Auñón-Chancellor, "The biggest question that remains is how would we deal with this on an exploration class mission to Mars? How would we prepare ourselves medically? More research must be performed to further elucidate clot formation in this environment and possible countermeasures."
- Internal jugular venous thrombosis has most often been associated with cancer, a central venous catheter, or ovarian hyperstimulation. Recently, it has been found in a growing number of IV drug abusers who inject drugs directly into the internal jugular vein. The condition can have potentially life-threatening complications, including systemic sepsis and pulmonary embolism.
- Other members of the research team included James M. Pattarini, M.D., M.P.H., National Aeronautics and Space Administration Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; Stephan Moll, M.D., University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; and Ashot Sargsyan, M.D., KBR, Houston, TX.
- The study was funded by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) under the Human Research Program (grant NNJ11ZSA002NA).
• January 2, 2020: Blood clot expert Stephan Moll, MD, professor of medicine in the UNC (University of North Carolina) School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, consulted NASA on how to treat a U.S. astronaut's deep vein thrombosis during a mission on the International Space Station. Moll co-wrote a case study on the successful treatment that has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 19)
- "My first reaction when NASA reached out to me was to ask if I could visit the International Space Station (ISS) to examine the patient myself," said Stephan Moll, MD, UNC School of Medicine blood clot expert and long-time NASA enthusiast. "NASA told me they couldn't get me up to space quickly enough, so I proceeded with the evaluation and treatment process from here in Chapel Hill."
- Moll was the only non-NASA physician NASA consulted when it was discovered that an astronaut aboard the ISS had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – or blood clot – in the jugular vein of their neck. The astronaut's identity is being kept anonymous for privacy reasons, so identifying information such as when this event happened is being omitted from the case study. We do know that the astronaut was two months into a six-month mission on the ISS when the DVT was discovered.
- This was the first time a blood clot had been found in an astronaut in space, so there was no established method of treatment for DVT in zero gravity. Moll, a member of the UNC Blood Research Center, was called upon for his vast knowledge and treatment experience of DVT on Earth.
- "Normally the protocol for treating a patient with DVT would be to start them on blood thinners for at least three months to prevent the clot from getting bigger and to lessen the harm it could cause if it moved to a different part of the body such as the lungs," Moll said. "There is some risk when taking blood thinners that if an injury occurs, it could cause internal bleeding that is difficult to stop. In either case, emergency medical attention could be needed. Knowing there are no emergency rooms in space, we had to weigh our options very carefully."
- Moll and a team of NASA doctors decided blood thinners would be the best course of treatment for the astronaut. They were limited in their pharmaceutical options, however. The ISS keeps only a small supply of various medicines on board, and there was a limited amount of the blood thinner Enoxaparin (Lovenox®) available. Moll advised NASA on what dosage of Enoxaparin would effectively treat the DVT while also lasting long enough, until NASA could get a new shipment of drugs – which Moll helped select – to the ISS.
Figure 20: You could call it the ultimate telemedicine. A UNC expert enlisted by NASA to help treat an astronaut during a mission on the ISS. Hear about the experience from Dr. Stephan Moll in his own words (video credit: UNC Health Care)
- The course of treatment with Enoxaparin – a drug delivered by an injection into the skin – lasted for around 40 days. On day 43 of the astronaut's treatment, a supply of Apixaban (Eliquis®) – a pill taken orally– was delivered to the ISS by a supply spacecraft.
- Throughout the treatment process, which lasted more than 90 days, the astronaut performed ultrasounds on their own neck with guidance from a radiology team on Earth in order to monitor the blood clot. Moll was also able to speak to the astronaut during this period through email and phone calls.
- "When the astronaut called my home phone, my wife answered and then passed the phone to me with the comment, ‘Stephan, a phone call for you from space.' That was pretty amazing," said Moll. "It was incredible to get a call from an astronaut in space. They just wanted to talk to me as if they were one of my other patients. And amazingly the call connection was better than when I call my family in Germany, even though the ISS zips around Earth at 17,000 miles per hour."
- Four days before the astronaut's journey home to Earth, they stopped taking Apixaban. Moll and his NASA counterparts made that decision because of how physically demanding and potentially dangerous the re-entry process can be for astronauts, and they did not want an injury to be exacerbated by the use of blood thinners. The astronaut landed safely on Earth and the blood clot required no more treatment.
- This astronaut's blood clot was asymptomatic – they didn't have any symptoms that would have otherwise made them aware of the clot. The DVT was discovered when the astronaut was taking ultrasounds of their neck for a research study on how body fluid is redistributed in zero gravity. If it wasn't for the study, there's no telling what the outcome could have been. That's why Moll continues to work with NASA and says there's a need for more research of how blood and blood clots behave in space.
- "Is this something that is more common in space?" posed Moll. "How do you minimize risk for DVT? Should there be more medications for it kept on the ISS? All of these questions need answering, especially with the plan that astronauts will embark on longer missions to the moon and Mars."
Figure 21: Dr. Stephan Moll at NASA (image credit: NASA, UNC)
• December 22, 2019: An astronaut aboard the ISS focused a long camera lens on the Sun's reflection point while orbiting over southern coastal Brazil. That reflection (known as sunglint) highlights three major rivers: Rio Paraná, Rio Tietê, and Rio Paranapanema.
- For scale, the Atlantic Ocean near the port city of Santos is about 600 kilometers (400 miles) from the Paraná River. The sea surface also reflects sunlight, as does the smoke pall across the top of the image. The smoke came from fires that were burning further north in Brazil and Paraguay.
- Such views looking toward the sunglint point show the water bodies in stark detail. But the contrast with dark land surfaces causes such a loss of detail that the entire metropolitan area of São Paulo, with its 30 million inhabitants, is mostly obscured.
- The Rio Tietê flows right through the metro region from headwaters north of São Paulo. This river provides half of the region's urban water supply. All of these rivers are heavily controlled by strings of reservoirs that retain water flow for use by the major cities and to generate hydroelectric power. The reservoirs all appear as the brightest, widest points along the river courses.
Figure 22: The astronaut photograph ISS060-E-44562 was acquired on August 25, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 50 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by M. Justin Wilkinson)
• December 20, 2019: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano shares a message with everyone back on Earth as he and his crew prepare to celebrate Christmas on board the International Space Station. 20)
Figure 23: Mission Beyond: Luca's Christmas message (video credit: ESA)
- Though Beyond is Luca's second mission to the Space Station, 2019 will be the first time he spends Christmas in orbit. In this message Luca reflects on the things he will miss, including his family and all the lights, colors, food and smells that go along with the holiday season.
- As Luca reflects on Christmas on Earth, he also reflects on the next step in space exploration and the importance of preserving our home planet for future generations.
- Luca is the third European and first Italian commander of the International Space Station. He was launched for his second mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 20 July 2019 and will return to Earth in February 2020.
- While in orbit, Luca is supporting more than 50 European experiments across a broad range of disciplines. This vital research in microgravity helps us progress medicine and technology on Earth while preparing us to explore even farther in space.
• December 19, 2019: The Space Station has grown to the size of a football field and space agencies are looking to extend its lifetime until 2030. European-built computers have quietly been keeping this orbital outpost on track and in the right position, running in the background since 2000. 21)
Figure 24: Space station office. The setup in the Russian Zvezda module on the ISS shortly before the docking of Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle Georges Lemaître (ATV-5). ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst took this picture during his six-month Blue Dot mission running experiments and maintaining the world's weightless research center in space. He Tweeted the image with the text "My office"(image credit: ESA/NASA)
- The Data Management System (DMS) computers in the Russian Zvezda module were built over 20 years ago by what is now Airbus. Two fault-tolerant computers collect data and provide navigation, communications and operations for the Russian segment.
- These are required for International Space Station operations, and a sudden breakdown could lead to catastrophic consequences. To ensure continuity three units work in parallel with two active and one standby to take over if one fails. A fourth computer is kept as spare that is used as soon as one of the computers in active duty has problems.
Figure 25: The ISS adjusted its orbit to create the right conditions to welcome Luca's Soyuz and the cargo vehicle and later this month the Progress MS-12 supply spacecraft. The Russian Zvezda module fired its engines for 34 seconds in the middle of the night on 2 July 2019, raising the orbit to 436 km above Earth (image credit: ESA)
- More fault-tolerant computers were built for a Russian module soon to be launched to the International Space Station, the Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The new computers exhausted the spare parts kept aside for ground repairs and production of new computers.
- After years of operations, engineers noticed that most of the failures on ground and on-orbit computers occurred in memory modules on one the printed circuit boards of the computers. Each time, a failed computer was removed, returned to ground for repairs and then re-launched, with a long turn-around and impact on logistics. In addition it soon became clear that this approach was not sustainable due to the lack of parts.
- Following extensive technical discussions and testing on Earth, engineers proved that a new printed circuit board, with the same form and function but built using modern and available components, could be the solution.
- Teams in Russia and Europe considered upgrading the computer boards directly by an astronaut on the Space Station in weightlessness – the equivalent of open heart surgery on Earth! This was no easy task to demonstrate, considering the computers were not designed for maintenance on orbit and the units were closed with small screws, sometimes even glued in place.
- Much like preparing for a spacewalk, engineers and Russian cosmonauts practiced and demonstrated the process on Earth to ensure the operations were feasible and could be performed in space without risk.
- Convinced that this approach would work new computer boards were ordered in 2015 and sent to the Space Station in 2018.
Figure 26: Photo of the DMC (Data Management Computers) in the Russian Module Zvezda (image credit: ESA)
- Waiting for the new mainboards to reach the Space Station, a failed computer was kept on-orbit. When the new parts and trained astronauts arrived teams decided to use a failed unit as a test case.
- In January 2019 the older board was replaced with the new stock. At that time cosmonauts confirmed that the computer had survived the operation but were not yet certain that it was fully fit. Crew time in space is scarce and the teams planned to wait for the next failure before installing the computer that had undergone a heart transplant and fully check it. Last month one of the old computers had problems and so it was removed and replaced with the new unit.
- All is now confirmed to be working properly, with great satisfaction to the personnel at RSC-Energia, Airbus and ESA. This solution requires less costly transport to Earth orbit as only the boards need to be swapped instead of the whole units – the repair time is now reduced from six months to a few days.
- This kind of behind-the-scenes work is the type that does not get much attention unless something goes wrong, but the new approach is needed as humans explore farther into our Solar System, starting on the Gateway, where supplies from Earth are not readily available.
- Maintenance on the International Space Station demonstrates the experience and design knowledge needed to support future missions while ensuring more sustainable operations – a win-win situation.
Figure 27: When Earth is so far away, it helps to have friends nearby. The usual six-astronaut crew of the ISS welcomed three more and a cargo vehicle September 2019, making for a full house on the orbital outpost. The arrival of NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and the first United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri on 25 September was followed by the Japanese HTV-8 space freighter the next day, bringing over four tonnes of supplies and fresh science. - With nine people on board, the Space Station was even busier and nosier than usual, including at mealtimes. This image was taken of the team gathered for a celebratory dinner in the Russian Zvezda module, the food preparation area of the Space Station. - Astronauts try to maintain a routine that includes social time to unwind and build camaraderie. This is especially important in a multicultural environment. A total of 239 people from 19 countries have visited the space home, and as of Luca's current mission Beyond, there are 4 nationalities on board (image credit: NASA) 22)
• December 12, 2019: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano on-screen during a live call from the International Space Station at the the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid, Spain, 11 December 2019. 23)
- Astronauts have long described the profound experience of seeing Earth from orbit. Against the vastness of space, the beauty of our home planet is clearer than ever – but so is the need to protect it.
Figure 28: ISS Commander discusses climate with the U.N. COP25 Conference. Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) discussed his view of the Earth from orbit and climate issues during an in-flight question-and-answer session Dec. 11 with attendees of the United Nations COP25 climate conference in Madrid, Spain. Parmitano is in the midst of a long duration mission on the station, heading for a return to Earth next February to complete a flight of more than 200 days in space (video credit: NASA)
Figure 29: Luca talking climate change at COP25. From fires in the Amazon and Hurricane Dorian to disappearing atolls and shrinking sea ice, Luca has captured evidence of Earth's fragility and our impact as humans. He shared that view once again with world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 25 as they take the next crucial steps for our planet (image credit: ESA)
• December 10, 2019: In October the International Space Station was even more busy than usual with nine astronauts living and working in humankind's outpost in Earth orbit. With three more astronauts, the Station's life support systems worked overtime to provide enough air and water recycling for the crew, and ESA's new Advanced Closed Loop System (ACLS) stepped in to help scrub the extra carbon dioxide in the air. 24)
- The Station is designed to house six astronauts but regularly receives additional visitors for brief periods of time. The extra humans need extra food, water and oxygen, but also create extra waste such as carbon dioxide exhaled from the lungs which puts extra strain on the Station's life support systems.
- In October 2018, ESA launched a new regenerative life support system made by Airbus in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The ACLS is capable of recycling carbon dioxide. Three major steps in the recycling process are currently being tested and worked on in order.
- One element of the system takes water and separates it into oxygen and hydrogen. A second part captures carbon dioxide from the air and keeps carbon dioxide within acceptable levels using a unique amine process developed by ESA. The recycling step takes place in a ‘Sabatier reactor'. Hydrogen and carbon dioxide react with steam and pass over a catalyst to form water and methane.
- The water is condensed to be recycled into oxygen and hydrogen while the methane is vented into space, together with excess carbon dioxide. The element that captures and concentrates carbon dioxide in the three-step system was used extensively when ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and his six crewmates were joined by three additional astronauts for a few days (see Figure 64), boosting existing carbon dioxide scrubbing systems.
- Though regulating carbon dioxide is only one feature of the ACLS, testing on the Space Station has proven its ability to control CO2 concentrations. The technology used in ACLS is especially suitable for operation at low carbon dioxide levels. This is a major goal for long duration missions in order to increase crew health and comfort.
- "We are very happy to have contributed to Space Station life support operations, especially in such a critical area as the air astronauts breathe," says Johannes Witt, project manager at ESA, "it is an amazing feeling for the team to consider that the work we invested over years into ACLS is now helping to produce clean air for astronauts in space."
Figure 30: ESA's ACLS recycles carbon dioxide on the Space Station into oxygen. For years oxygen on the Space Station was extracted from water that is brought from Earth, a costly and limiting drawback. The new system recycles half of the carbon dioxide thereby saving about 400 l of water that needs to be launched to the International Space Station each year. The facility is a Space Station-standard 2-m tall rack. Although the system is made to demonstrate the new technology, it will be part of the Space Station's life support system and produce oxygen for three astronauts, and operated for at least 1 year over 2 years to demonstrate its performance and reliability (image credit: ESA)
- The system will continue to be tested step-by-step, as some teething problems encountered along the way mean that it is not yet fully operational. "We knew that designing and testing a life-support system that is the size of a single bed would be a challenge," explains Johannes. "Systems with fluids and gases behave differently in microgravity. Air bubbles and particles in the condensate which is used by ACLS posed a much bigger challenge than expected. This is exactly why we developed and are testing the life support system close to home on the International Space Station where problems can be solved relatively easily. Farther away from Earth you need high reliability because repairs are much more difficult."
- The European technology behind the ACLS will be hugely beneficial in exploring farther beyond our planet and engineers, astronauts and ground control are rigorously working on getting the system fully operational.
- New parts and filters arrived by cargo ferry and the team is optimistic that the system will be fully operational by early 2020.
Figure 31: ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst after installing ESA's next-generation life support rack ACLS on the ISS in October 2018. Alexander commented on the image: "Science fiction, just without "fiction" (image credit: ESA/NASA) 25)
• December 8, 2019: This photograph of Lake Oahe, South Dakota, was taken by an astronaut looking down from the International Space Station (ISS). The lake stands behind the Oahe Dam, and the Missouri River flows downstream to the southeast. The extensive rectangular fields around the river and lake are a visual reminder that agriculture is the main economic engine of the state. 26)
- Lake Oahe is the fourth largest man-made reservoir in North America, extending from Pierre, South Dakota, to Bismarck, North Dakota (a distance of approximately 230 miles/370 kilometers). Since the lake is a storage reservoir, the water volume changes frequently, especially during droughts. Lake Oahe is used for many purposes, including irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation.
- The dam and lake is one of several reservoir systems built on the Missouri River. The main stem Missouri is the longest river in North America, flowing from the Rocky Mountains in Montana to its confluence with the Mississippi River near St. Louis. Along its length, the river feeds reservoirs in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and along the Nebraska-South Dakota border.
Figure 32: This astronaut photograph ISS060-E-553 was acquired on June 25, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 116 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
• December 6, 2019: Crew members conducted a variety of investigations aboard the International Space Station during the week of Dec. 2, including research into wearable health sensors and using DNA to understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. On Monday, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA's Andrew Morgan completed their third in a series of spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). The crew also prepared to welcome the 19th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-19) carrying supplies and new scientific experiments, which launched Dec. 5. 27)
Figure 33: The crew shared a special Thanksgiving meal aboard the space station, a break from what can be a repetitive, limited menu (left to right, Christina Koch, Alexander Skvortsov, Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka, Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano). The ongoing Food Acceptability investigation examines changes in the appeal of food that can occur during long-duration missions (image credit: NASA)
- The space station, now in its 20th year of continuous human presence, conducts research critical to future missions such as Artemis, NASA's program to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.
- Here are details on some of the scientific investigations taking place on the orbiting lab:
Smart shirt supports health research
- To monitor their health and conduct health-related experiments aboard the space station, astronauts use a variety of medical devices. These devices can be bulky and invasive and their use often is disruptive and time-consuming. The Canadian Space Agency developed the Bio-Monitor, a device that uses wearable sensors to monitor and record heart rate, respiration rate, skin temperature and other parameters during an astronaut's daily routine. The smart vest can unobtrusively collect data for up to 48 hours and send it to the ground. Crew members updated software and conducted checks of the Bio-Monitor in preparation for additional testing.
Swabbing and sequencing in space
- Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) tests the use of DNA sequencing to observe microbial responses to spaceflight, which can improve our understanding of how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living in space. BEST uses a process that does not require cultivation of organisms prior to processing and can identify microbes aboard the space station not detected by current culture-based methods. The crew collected samples via swabbing at specific locations and stored them in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) for later return to Earth for processing. Crew members also removed frozen liquid cultures from MELFI for incubation on the space station, after which they will sequence part of the cultures and store other parts for return to Earth for DNA and RNA sequencing.
No more boring menus
- Food Acceptability examines how the appeal of food to astronauts changes during long-duration missions. "Menu fatigue" from repeatedly consuming a limited choice of foods may contribute to the loss of body mass often experienced by crew members, potentially affecting astronaut health, especially as mission length increases. Crew members completed questionnaires evaluating each food and beverage in one meal for overall acceptability. Astronauts complete questionnaires at regular intervals and various times of day for a total of 26 times during their mission.
Other investigations on which the crew performed work:
- The ISS Experience creates virtual reality videos from footage taken by astronauts of different aspects of crew life, execution of science and the international partnerships involved on the space station.
- The BioFabrication Facility (BFF) tests a technology to print organ-like tissues in microgravity as a step toward manufacturing human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.
- Fluid Shifts measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels in microgravity in an effort to determine how these shifts affect fluid pressure in the head and eye and related effects on vision.
- The Food Physiology experiment is designed to characterize the key effects of an enhanced spaceflight diet on immune function, the gut microbiome and nutritional status indicators.
- Standard Measures captures an ongoing, optimized set of measures from crew members to characterize how their bodies adapt to living in space. Researchers use these measures to create a data repository for high-level monitoring of the effectiveness of countermeasures and better interpretation of health and performance outcomes.
• November 29, 2019: A network of farms and ranches surrounds the cities and small towns near the Nebraska–Iowa border. An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photograph highlighting Nebraska's two most populous cities: Omaha and Lincoln. The grid-like pattern that spreads across the encompassing flatlands is typical of the Great Plains region and of Nebraska in particular, where 91 percent of the total land area is covered by farms and ranches. 28)
- The rectangular grid is a result of the Public Land Survey System, which dates back to the early days of the United States. Land in the region was divided into townships and sections by north-south and east-west lines. Each section was one square mile, except where some geomorphic features (like rivers) interrupted the landscape.
- One such interruption is the Platte River confluence with the Missouri River. This meeting point, just 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Omaha, is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The two rivers have played a vital role in the development of Omaha as an agricultural center in the Midwest.
- Similar to farms in neighboring Kansas, the fields around Omaha are primarily irrigated by water from the High Plains Aquifer—also known as the Ogallala—with additional water withdrawn from other local aquifers. West of Omaha, the Ogallala interacts with the Platte River, which recharges the aquifer as part of the hydrologic cycle.
Figure 34: The astronaut photograph ISS060-E-35401 was acquired on August 13, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 50 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Alex Stoken)
• November 29, 2019: Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency completed their second spacewalk to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on 22 November 2019. 29)
Figure 35: The work clears the way for Parmitano and Morgan's next spacewalk in the repair series on Monday, 2 December. They've been practicing the skills needed to bypass the old thermal control system by attaching a new one and connecting to those now sliced steel tubes. A fourth spacewalk will focus on leak checks and installing insulation on the AMS to keep it running for years to come (video credit: NASA/ESA)
- As millions of Americans enjoyed turkey and dressing this week on Earth, the space station crew enjoyed their own thanksgiving feast aboard the station.
- "We've got vegetables of course. Green beans and potatoes, and of course, smoked Turkey in a pouch."
- "Cornbread dressing. This will be great, we can maybe stuff it inside the turkey just to make it like a real stuffing."
- "I want to know who's going to crave the turkey once it comes out of the pouch."
- "And of course jellied cranberry sauce in a can. So, I can just like you get at home, and of course it's got to stay in the shape of the can after you open it up."
- Astronauts could one day remotely control Moon and Mars rovers from orbit.
- Luca Parmitano conducted an ESA experiment known as Analog-1, to see if on-orbit crews, scientists on the ground and new technology can work together to guide a rover on a simulated lunar mission. This project investigates how effectively an astronaut on the ISS can operate a rover on a Moon-like terrain on Earth. The rover is tasked with collecting rock and soil samples, then remotely investigating the samples.
- Analog-1 is the final step in ESA's ongoing METERON (Multi-purpose End-To-End Robotics Operations Network) project, which is an initiative to develop and test robotics, communications and operations innovations that astronauts can use to explore the solar system.
• November 28, 2019: The AMS-02 (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02) is a cosmic ray detector that is helping scientists understand more about the origins of our Universe. To continue delivering groundbreaking science, its cooling system must be upgraded. However, it was never designed to be maintained in orbit making the spacewalking series particularly complex. 30)
- Spacewalks are time-consuming to prepare, and can occupy many hours of an astronaut's week in space. Despite this, much of the science on the International Space Station continues unattended, controlled by operators on Earth. Planners also find creative ways to fit experiment runs into a crewmember's busy schedule.
Figure 36: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan are helped into their American EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) spacesuits by NASA astronaut Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka ahead of the second spacewalk to service AMS-02 (image credit: ESA/NASA)
• November 27, 2019: The deserts of Utah offer many textbook examples of geologic exposures. Accented by dramatic shadows, this photograph shows canyons and prominent topography around Comb Ridge, as observed by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The town of Bluff, Utah, is one of the few human footprints on this southwestern U.S. landscape. 31)
- Comb Ridge (Tséyíkáán in Navajo) is a large example of a geologic formation known as a monocline. This type of structure occurs when previously flat rock layers fold downward in one direction and then flatten out away from the bend. This escarpment trends in the north-south direction for almost 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Utah's Abajo Mountains to Kayenta, Arizona. The Sun's position at mid-morning (local time) caused the jagged edges of the ridge to cast shadows that accentuate topography and add depth to the photo.
- A mountain-building event known as the Laramide orogeny lifted up this area between 40 and 70 million years ago. Subsequent rivers and streams associated with Comb Wash helped erode away the lifted layers of rock, creating a steep relief along the western edge of the sandstone cliffs. Sharp-crested ridges formed by tilted rock layers and differential erosion are sometimes referred to as "hogbacks" by geologists due to the spine-like appearance of the outcrop. The hogback of Comb Ridge is composed of Navajo Sandstone, which stands in vivid contrast to the darker surrounding rock formations.
Figure 37: The astronaut photograph ISS060-E-38053 was acquired on August 20, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using an 800 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrew Britton)
• November 21, 2019: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano took command of a rover in the Netherlands on Monday (18 Nov.)and expertly drove it over an obstacle course to collect a rock from a sampling site– all while circling our planet at 28,800 km/h on the International Space Station. 32)
Figure 38: Operating a rover from space – Analog-1. This test was the first in a series to prove the technology ESA has developed to operate rovers from afar. Called Analog-1 the test could hardly have gone any better. Given one hour of precious astronaut time, Luca ticked all the boxes for the exam in less than half an hour. - Robots can be fitted for special tasks and go places where no humans can go, but nothing beats our quick and adaptive thinking and the human touch. The Analog-1 rover is equipped with force feedback so astronauts can feel what the robot feels and adjust grip accordingly on a joystick that allows for six degrees of motion. - ESA's exploration strategy foresees astronauts controlling robots from orbit around the Moon or Mars or from inside a planetary base (video credit: ESA)
- "We are developing systems for astronauts to work hand-in-hand with robots, to achieve much more than they could on their own" says ESA's project manager Kjetil Wormnes, "a rover on Mars would have taken weeks to do the same work Luca and the Analog-1 rover did in half an hour."
- Robots can be fitted for special tasks and go places where no humans can go, but nothing beats our quick and adaptive thinking and the human touch. The Analog-1 rover is equipped with force feedback so astronauts can feel what the robot feels and adjust grip accordingly on a joystick that allows for six degrees of motion.
- "Even on the Moon preparing an astronaut for a sortie takes hours just to get into a suit and prepare the airlock," adds Jessica Grenouilleau, Meteron project lead at ESA's Exploration Systems Group "by giving astronauts the possibility to control the robots nearby in the safety and comfort of their base or orbital spacecraft, much more can be achieved. This first test indicates an excellent adaptation between the crew and the robotic system, making this combination better at a wide range of tasks."
Figure 39: Sample collection gripper on the Analog-1 Interact rover (image credit: ESA)
- Coming Monday (25 Nov.) will see all elements of the overarching Meteron project be put to the test. Luca will drive the robot to three sites in the hangar in the Netherlands and decide in collaboration with a science team based at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, which rocks to pick up and keep for later analysis.
- This experiment is as authentic as possible using the International Space Station as a stand-in for a lunar gateway and the hangar made to resemble a lunar landscape. Whereas the first "proficiency run" was used to test the systems and Luca had to follow a determined path, next week he will be more free to explore to meet the objectives set up by the science team at the European Astronaut Center.
- The same science software designed for guiding the ExoMars rover mission on the Red Planet will be used that allows the science team to indicate sites of interest as well as overlay dangerous areas that are beyond the limits of the rover's capabilities.
• November 19, 2019: The first spacewalk to service the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) could not have gone better. Lead spacewalker ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is imaged here hitching a ride on the International Space Station's 16-meter long robotic arm to kick off the first of four ventures to service the particle physics detector on 15 November. 33)
- While all spacewalks are a carefully planned and detailed affair, the four spacewalks for AMS are exceptionally difficult as the bus-sized dark matter detector was never designed to be maintained in space. But after three successful years of delivering ground breaking science, the decision was made to extend its lifetime.
- The cooling pumps for AMS-02 need maintenance and without them it will no longer be able to collect data on the cosmic rays that are bombarding our planet. The first question spacewalk designers had to answer whether this was even possible.
- The first spacewalk proved it was not only possible, but thanks to the planning and trained that began as early as 2017, Luca and his spacewalking partner Andrew Morgan could achieve more than scheduled – setting them in good stead for the next phase.
- The spacewalk began, as they all do, with "pre-breathing" for up to two hours. Similar to scuba divers, astronauts can suffer from the ‘bends': quickly changing pressure can turn the nitrogen in human bodies into bubbles with serious symptoms. To avoid this, astronauts breathe pure oxygen to purge their bodies of nitrogen.
- Luca and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan left the depressurized Quest airlock at 13:10 CET (12:10 GMT), with Luca grabbing the ride to AMS on the robotic arm controlled by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir while Drew ferried handrails and equipment by hand to the worksite.
- The main task of this spacewalk was to remove the debris shield covering AMS, with an estimated three hours portioned for this task. Luca and Drew managed to jettison the debris shield to burn up safely in Earth's atmosphere well ahead of schedule.
- Luca and Drew also installed three handrails in the vicinity of AMS to prepare for the next spacewalks and removed zip ties on the AMS' vertical support strut.
- Amazingly, the duo were still well ahead of the six hours planned for the main task of removing the debris shield.
- When time permits, mission control give spacewalkers some "get ahead" tasks. Although there were no get-ahead tasks planned for this spacewalk the duo was so far ahead of schedule that mission control agreed they continue work originally planned for the second AMS spacewalk. Luca removed the screws from a carbon-fibre cover under the insulation and passed the cover to Drew to jettison once again.
- The pair cleaned up, took some photos of their killer views, gathered tools, and made their way back to the airlock, clocking in 6 hours and 39 minutes for this promising start to AMS maintenance.
Figure 40: Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan left the depressurized Quest airlock at 13:10 CET (12:10 GMT), with Luca grabbing the ride to AMS on the robotic arm (Canadarm2) controlled by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir while Drew ferried handrails and equipment by hand to the worksite (image credit: ESA/NASA)
Figure 41: NASA astronauts (from left ) Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are at the robotics workstation controlling the Canadarm2 robotic arm to support the first spacewalk to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Astronauts Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Andrew Morgan of NASA worked six hours and 39 minutes in the vacuum of space during the first of at least four planned AMS repair spacewalks (image credit: NASA) 34)
Figure 42: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan waves as he is photographed (Nov. 15, 2019) seemingly camouflaged among the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (lower left) and other International Space Station hardware during the first spacewalk to repair the cosmic particle detector (image credit: NASA) 35)
• November 17, 2019: Both of these photos of Madagascar were taken from the ISS (International Space Station) by astronauts using handheld digital cameras. The photo of Figure 43 was taken using a 10 mm lens, sometimes called a fisheye lens. The photo of Figure 44 was captured using a 58 mm lens, making this field of view slightly more zoomed in than what a human eye sees. For comparison, a smartphone camera usually has a field of view equivalent to a 24 to 30 mm lens on a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. 36)
- Smaller lens sizes are helpful when astronauts want to photograph broad geographic regions on Earth. The first photo captures the entire island of Madagascar as viewed while looking down through the round center window in the ISS Cupola. The optical design of the small lens size causes Madagascar to appear distorted in comparison to a geometrically corrected map view. Spacecraft parts, including a docked Russian Soyuz capsule and the ISS solar panels, appear around the photo perimeter.
- The photo of Figure 44 was taken using a 58 mm lens while the ISS was above a point on Earth's surface about 580 km (360 miles) south-southwest of Madagascar. From its southernmost tip to its northern coasts, Madagascar stretches 1,500 km (~1,000 miles). When viewed from the ISS altitude of 360 km (225 miles) above Earth's surface, the horizon is a bit more than 2,300 km (1,400 miles) away.
- The whole island is captured in both photos; however, the northern end of Madagascar is indistinguishable in the 58 mm shot due to cloud cover and the highly oblique viewing angle. Since the fisheye lens has a much wider field of view and was used when ISS was directly over the island (indicated by the spacecraft nadir label on the image), all of Madagascar was captured in a single but more visibly distorted shot.
Figure 43: Different lens sizes and camera angles provide wildly different views of Madagascar. The astronaut photograph ISS053-E-202989 was acquired on 6 November 2017, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 10 mm lens. Both images were provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. This image was taken by members of the Expedition 53 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrea Meado)
Figure 44: The astronaut photograph ISS059-E-46155 was acquired on 6 May 2019 with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 58 mm lens. Both images were provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. This image was taken by members of the Expedition 59 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrea Meado)
• November 13, 2019: Looking down from the International Space Station on the Italian coastline through a powerful (1150 millimeter) zoom lens, an astronaut shot this detailed photograph of the city of Taranto. It is Italy's major southern port and naval base. These facilities face into the outer bay, locally known as the Mar Grande, where ships are anchored. The Cheradi Islands form a small archipelago that encircles the Mar Grande. 37)
- From docks on the north side of Mar Grande, the city exports petroleum and steel products from a nearby industrial zone. The naval yards lie on the east side. The old town, dating from Roman times, occupies the tip of the promontory that separates Taranto's outer bay from the inner bay, Mar Piccolo.
- A wider view from 2014 shows Taranto's location in the northern angle of the Gulf of Taranto.
Figure 45: Italy's major southern port and naval base has a history dating back to Roman times. This astronaut photograph ISS052-E-8449 was acquired on June 25, 2017, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using an 1150 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 52 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Justin Wilkinson)
• November 12, 2019: Four spacewalks in the coming weeks means a lot of preparation work. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is gearing up the first in a series of historic EVAs (Extra Vehicular Activities) taking place 15 November. 38)
- The spacewalks are to service the AMS-2 (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer), a dark matter hunter that is providing researchers with data on cosmic ray particles well beyond its three-year mission.
- Installed outside the International Space Station in 2011, the instrument has recorded over 140 billion particles to date along with their mass, velocity, and charge and direction of travel. This data is helping scientists track down and understand the sources of dark matter, an invisible energy that makes up roughly 90% of the universe.
- As expected, the harsh environment of space began to wear down the facility. One by one, the cooling pumps keeping a vital detector at a constant temperature began to fail, affecting the data collection. — Plans for spacewalks to upgrade the pumps have been in the making for years to keep the science going.
- Never intended to be serviced in orbit, the AMS maintenance will be complex.
- For starters, AMS-02 has over 300,000 data channels. There are also no handrails or foot restraints installed around the instrument to access the cooling system that needs maintenance. New tools are also needed, as astronauts have never cut and reconnected fluid lines in a bulky spacesuit before.
- Luca trained well in advance for these spacewalks at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA. New tools and procedures were extensively tested, with a lot of know-how drawn from the last series of complex spacewalks to extend the life of a valuable space instrument, the Hubble Space telescope.
- Now that the latest Cygnus cargo supply mission has brought the final tools needed, Luca and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan are ready to go.
- Luca will play a leading role as EV-1, wearing a white spacesuit with red stripes while Andrew wears the white spacesuit with no stripes. It is the first time a European astronaut has held the lead position.
- The pair will be supported by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir who will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm from inside the Station. This will help position the astronauts around their hard-to-reach work site, located on top of the Station's S3 Truss structure between a pair of solar arrays and radiators.
- The entire spacewalk is expected to take around six hours and it will set the scene for at least three more.
Figure 46: Luca is preparing for his EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) on 15 November. He is pictured here creating tape flags that will be used to mark tubes during the spacewalks (image credit: ESA/NASA)
• November 6, 2019: A thin veil of dust blows across the low-lying region south of the Parapeti and Guapay (Grande) Rivers in southern Bolivia. An astronaut shot this photograph as strong winds blew parallel to the Andean foothills over a dried riverbed, creating streaks of airborne sediment. While the dust obscures much of the land below, blocky plots of deforestation and agricultural development are visible along the rivers through the haze. 39)
- The winter season in the Bolivian lowlands—May to October,—is often hot and dry. With little to no rainfall, the rivers dry up and become vulnerable to aeolian processes such as wind erosion and transport of sediments as dust plumes. Strong winds can keep the sediment aloft for long periods of time, leading to transport and deposition further to the south.
- The Andean foothills act as a barrier, preventing the airborne dust from traveling west. However, there is little need for it on the other side of the mountains. To the west of the area in this image, the large salt flats of Bolivia provide material for far greater dust storms.
Figure 47: The astronaut photograph ISS056-E-156989 was acquired on August 23, 2018, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 122 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 56 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Sara Schmidt and Andrea Meado)
• October 27, 2019: This photograph of the Alaskan Peninsula, shot by an astronaut from the International Space Station (ISS), offers an oblique view of the Katmai National Park. Many of the mountains are active volcanoes—part of the Aleutian Range—and several are topped by glaciers. 40)
- Just northwest of the coastal mountain range lies the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a river valley that was buried by an eruption of Novarupta volcano in 1912. It was the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century.
- Large quantities of hot ash and pumice were ejected during the eruption. The rain of hot debris buried the snow and glacial streams, immediately flashing them into steam. Those volcanic deposits remained hot for years afterwards and often converted subsequent precipitation and surface stream flows into steam—hence the name Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. During the same eruption, the summit of Mount Katmai collapsed, forming a deep caldera that has filled with water as a crater lake.
- Katmai National Park has multiple sediment-rich rivers that deliver freshwater to the ocean. These rivers and streams provide avenues for anadromous fish species, especially salmon, to migrate and spawn upstream in the park. The abundance of fish is important for some of Katmai's other residents: bald eagles and brown bears.
Figure 48: The astronaut photograph ISS060-E-33914 was acquired on August 11, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 500 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
• October 24, 2019: As the Sun sets in Chicago, the city begins to bustle with nightlife—and it's not just from partying humans. Cats, coyotes, possums, raccoons, rats, and skunks all come out of their urban homes to hunt, mate, and roam the city. But a recent study shows that these behaviors can be altered by artificial lighting—street lamps, flood lights, and illumination around homes and businesses. 41)
Figure 49: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using data courtesy of Schirmer, A. E., et al. (2019). The astronaut photograph ISS037-E-8303 was acquired on October 9, 2013, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 50 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 37 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: Story by Kasha Patel)
- The study, led by researchers from Northeastern Illinois University, showed that the city's nocturnal animals roamed less and were less active as nighttime light levels increased. Researchers started seeing significant changes in animal behavior in areas with lighting as dim as 6 lux, a unit of measurement that describes the amount of light falling on the surface. For reference, 6 lux is slightly dimmer than Earth's surface at twilight; typical kitchen lighting is around 500 lux.
- "If larger nocturnal animals are less active around the city at night, their movement patterns can be altered temporally and spatially," said Aaron Schirmer, lead author of the paper and a biology professor at Northeastern Illinois University. "That would have the potential to affect the food web in ways that we might not fully understand yet."
Figure 50: January 19, 2008 - October 9, 2013. Using this information, the team mapped where electric light pollution in Chicago is likely to have the largest effect on wildlife. This image shows the green spaces in Chicago and whether they are above or below light levels of 6 lux. Land cover data come from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency of Planning. To determine the lux levels, the researchers used the photos from the ISS, measuring the value of each pixel to determine which areas were above and below 6 lux.
- While other research has shown a significant increase in artificial lighting around natural and semi-natural ecosystems, Schirmer and colleagues sought to measure the actual effects on animal behavior through a series of lab and field observations. First, the team mapped light pollution across the Chicago metropolitan area. They traveled around the city measuring light intensity in various areas using handheld light meters. Then they combined and calibrated the ground measurements with photographs shot from the International Space Station (ISS) by astronauts. The image of Figure 49 shows a photo of Chicago shot from ISS on October 9, 2013.
- Once the researchers measured the range of light levels in the city, they recreated the conditions in a series of lab experiments with mice. By slowly increasing the light exposure to correspond to the common nighttime light levels found in Chicago, they found that locomotor activity (in this case, a mouse running on a wheel) decreased as light levels increased. The light levels in the tests ranged from less than 0.01 lux (a quarter Moon) to 121 lux (a very cloudy day).
- The team then took the collected data and ran an analysis to learn when animal behavior started to change. After running statistical models, researchers consistently observed behavior changes starting at 6 lux—brighter than a full Moon (0.108 lux) and dimmer than a twilight glow (10.8 lux). "As far as nighttime lights go, 6 lux is still fairly bright," Schirmer said. "I would expect some animals would have behavior changes even below that threshold."
- Schirmer and colleagues compared their lab results with observations of wildlife around the city. They used camera trap data from the Lincoln Park Zoo, which has collected more than 1 million photos of Chicago-area wildlife over the past decade. As with the lab mice, the opossums, raccoons, skunks, and other animals of the city showed a decrease in movement when exposed to high levels of city light. Nocturnal species demonstrated 19.6 percent more activity in darker locations than in brighter areas. Again, the researchers observed behavioral changes starting in areas approaching 6 lux.
- Using this information, the team mapped where electric light pollution in Chicago is likely to have the largest effect on wildlife. Figure 50 shows the green spaces in Chicago and whether they are above or below light levels of 6 lux. Land cover data come from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency of Planning. To determine the lux levels, the researchers used the photos from the ISS, measuring the value of each pixel to determine which areas were above and below 6 lux.
- The researchers found that about 36 percent of the green space around Chicago is regularly above 6 lux (shown on the map, Figure 50, in purple). That reduction in nighttime darkness could significantly affect wildlife behavior. Schirmer also noted that city lights affect even the larger green areas, subdividing them into darker and brighter sections and shrinking the size of suitable habitats for animals.
- "We want this study to raise awareness of the impact of electric light pollution on wildlife," said Schirmer. "From an urban planning perspective, it is important to think about ways in which nighttime light impacts animals and to find creative solutions that work for people and the wildlife."
• October 23, 2019: This composite image was made from more than 400 photos taken as the International Space Station traveled from Namibia toward the Red Sea. 42)
- The image of Figure 51 of star trails was compiled from time-lapse photography taken by NASA astronaut Christina Koch while onboard the International Space Station (ISS). This composite image was made from more than 400 individual photos taken over a span of about 11 minutes as the ISS traveled from Namibia toward the Red Sea.
- The image includes many natural and artificial lights that an astronaut may see during an orbit at night. On the ground, stationary features like cities appear as pale yellow-white dotted streaks; with each dot marking another frame captured. Many of the thinner dotted lines with darker orange hues are fires burning across Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Looking northward, thunderstorms cover much of central Africa. Bright white lightning flashes are captured in many of the compiled frames. Lightning stretches as far at the eye can see, clearly outlining Earth's limb. Above the horizon there is a faint green-yellow tracing of the upper atmosphere known as airglow.
- Perhaps the most striking features of this image are the star trails encircling the background around a point in the upper left corner of the image. "This point is essentially normal (perpendicular) to the ISS orbital plane, directly out of the port side of the vehicle based on the spacecraft silhouettes," said Matthew Osvog of NASA Johnson Space Center's ISS Flight Operations Pointing console.
- This means the stars close to this perpendicular vector (near the upper left) appear stationary during the short duration of the time-lapse sequence, while stars with increasing angular distance (further away from the normal vector) trace out large circles as the ISS rotates in inertial space and while orbiting the Earth. As seen in this composite image, the star trails eventually get large enough to dip behind Earth's limb. A few satellites are crossing in front of the star trails, traveling along different orbits.
Figure 51: The astronaut photographs ISS060-E-5207 to 5658 were acquired on July 5, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 28 mm lens and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The images were taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrea Meado)
• October 18, 2019: At 2:55 p.m. EDT, Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA concluded their spacewalk, the first with only women. During the 7-hour, 17-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts completed the replacement a failed power charging component, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU). The BCDU regulates the charge to the batteries that collect and distribute solar power to the orbiting lab's systems. Mission control activated the newly installed BCDU and reported it is operating properly. 43)
- The astronauts were also able to accomplish some get-ahead tasks including installation of a stanchion on the Columbus module for support of a new external ESA (European Space Agency) payload platform called Bartolomeo scheduled for launch to the station in 2020.
- It was the eighth spacewalk outside the station this year. Space station crew members have now conducted 221 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have spent a total of 57 days, 20 hours, and 29 minutes working outside the station.
- It was the first spacewalk for Meir and the fourth for Koch, who now has spent a total of 27 hours and 48 minutes spacewalking. It is the first spaceflight for both women, who were selected in the 2013 astronaut class that had equal numbers of women and men. Koch arrived to the orbiting laboratory in March 2019 and will remain in space for an extended duration mission of 11 months to provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman to prepare for human missions to the Moon and Mars.
- Meir became the 15th woman to spacewalk, and the 14th U.S. woman. It was the 43rd spacewalk to include a woman. Women have been performing spacewalks since 1984, when Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya spacewalked in July and NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan spacewalked in October.
- The faulty BCDU is due to return to Earth on the next SpaceX Dragon resupply ship for inspection. Station managers will reschedule the three battery replacement spacewalks for a future date. In the meantime, the five planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, are still on the calendar for November and December.
Figure 52: NASA spacewalkers Christina Koch (foreground, suit with red stripe) and Jessica Meir (suit with no stripes) replaced a failed BCDU (Battery Charge-Discharge Unit) with a new one during a 7-hour, 17-minute spacewalk (image credit: NASA TV)
• October 14, 2019: For eight days the International Space Station operated at full capacity with nine astronauts. With the extra set of hands in space the science teams on Earth got busy scheduling the astronauts' days to get the most research time out of their time in orbit. 44)
- United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori completed a number of experiments for European researchers, adding more data to the pool of results. Just a day after arriving, Hazzaa set up the Fluidics experiment that consists of two transparent spheres containing liquid that can mimic satellite fuel tanks as well as help researchers understand ocean currents.
Figure 53: Sloshing fluids. Have you ever tried walking while carrying a full cup of water? Your steps invariably cause the water to slosh about, making spills hard to avoid. Now imagine a satellite turning – the fuel inside will slosh, affecting the satellite's stability (image credit: CNES–E. Grimault, 2016)
- Hazzaa conducted his second and last session of the Time experiment on 3 October. Time flies, the expression goes, but what happens to time when you are flying at 28,800 km/h around Earth? Hazzaa wore a virtual reality headset to avoid distraction and followed onscreen instructions to test his reaction speed and estimation of time. Tasks included guessing how long a blue square remained on the screen, pressing a button for a set number of seconds and pressing stop after estimating the passing of a minute.
Figure 54: Screenshot from the virtual reality headset used for the Time experiment on the International Space Station. Since perceptions of time and space are believed to share the same neural processes, and research on depth perception in weightlessness has shown that astronauts often underestimate distance, scientists speculate that for astronauts time also flies in space. The Time experiment on the International Space Station investigates the claim that time subjectively speeds up in microgravity. Astronauts gauge how long a visual target appears on a laptop screen and their reaction times to these prompts recorded to process speed and attention. Scientists are not only collecting data on the neurological mechanisms at work here. The relativity of time, after all, implies that it is all in your head. As much as we can objectively measure and plot time, how individual humans perceive it is not just neurological but also psychological (image credit: CNES/CADMOS)
- Time probably flew for Hazzaa who has already returned to Earth alongside NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian commander Alexei Ovchinin in Soyuz MS-12.
EveryWear is everywhere
- The astronaut app EveryWear was developed for Thomas Pesquet's Proxima mission in 2016, and it is now a useful aid for recording all kinds of scientific data. On 2 October, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan wrapped up their third and last session of the Acoustic Diagnostics experiment. The session needed to be scheduled on their 80th day in space. Similar to the Time experiment but with sound, the astronauts wore headphones and answered questions on what they heard using the EveryWear app. The experiment will assess how hearing is affected in weightlessness as well as measure background noise on the International Space Station.
• October 13, 2019: An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) focused a long lens on a brightly colored group of fields in the Kursk region of Russia, not far north of the Ukrainian border. Kursk lies at the heart of Russia's "Black Belt" agricultural region, so-named for its rich black soils. 45)
- The bright fields result from the flowers of a ripening crop of rapeseed (also known as oilseed rape), a crop cultivated for its oil-rich seeds. (Brilliant rapeseed flowers have captured astronaut attention before, as in this shot of the Paris region.)
- The jagged boundaries of the fields are forested stream courses that remain unplowed in order to prevent soil erosion. Two small towns stand nearby: Kotelnikovo, to the west of the fields (north is to the right), and Malye Kryuki, to the east, near a dark-toned reservoir. For a sense of scale, the yellow fields extend for nearly 8 kilometers from left to right in the image.
- Photographs of Earth taken from the ISS with commercial, off-the-shelf digital cameras do not currently include geolocation information that can be used to precisely determine the geographic locations of features in an image. This photograph was one of the more difficult to locate by a ground-based analyst because it was taken with a long lens (which magnifies the view, but therefore shows a small area on the ground), and because the nadir point of the spacecraft was more than 300 kilometers to the southeast.
Figure 55: Yellow flowers brighten the landscape of southwestern Russia. The astronaut photograph ISS052-E-10195 was acquired on June 28, 2017, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 1150 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 52 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Justin Wilkinson)
• October 10, 2019: European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano is preparing to step out into space for his first spacewalk of the Beyond mission. 46)
- Scheduled for 25 October, he will work with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir to replace nickel hydrogen batteries with newer lithium ion batteries and install battery adapter plates on the Space Station's Port-6 truss structure.
- This is a process fellow ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet knows well, having replaced batteries on another power channel during his Proxima mission. We asked him to tell us more about the task and how the crew will prepare.
- Known to the crew as an EVA (Extravehicular Activity), each spacewalk is planned up to a year in advance.
- On Station, preparation begins around two weeks ahead, with a set of procedures called the "Road to EVA".
- "Preparing for a spacewalk will make up 2-3 hours of your schedule every day during this time," Thomas explains. "The crew often carry out prep in their personal time as well."
The big day
- Live coverage of Luca and Jessica's spacewalk starts on NASA TV at 10:30 GMT (12:30 CEST), but the crew will begin their preparation around 6:00. And there is to be no showering, shaving, or applying deodorant for at least a day in advance, as any remnants of these products could mix with the pure oxygen inside the suit and pose a fire risk.
- Astronauts wear a liquid cooling garment underneath their spacesuit. This is connected to the water system that keeps them cool, or warm, by circulating water around their body. They also don a medical monitor and put a dosimeter in their pocket to measure radiation before entering the hatch.
- Thomas describes the process inside the airlock as "like scuba diving in reverse", as astronauts breathe in a controlled way to rid their blood of nitrogen and adjust to lower pressure.
- A third crew member, known as the Intravehicular (IV) crew member, is also isolated in the airlock, before it goes to vacuum. This person helps the astronauts with their oxygen masks and into their spacesuits, while making sure everything is checked, tethered and ready for a safe and successful sortie.
- It is a role Luca will play in the two spacewalks before his, on 15 and 21 October.
Figure 56: Astronauts assist spacewalkers in the Quest airlock. NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan (left) and Christina Koch (right) are suited up in U.S. spacesuits before beginning a seven hour and one minute spacewalk to upgrade the station's large nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. In the center, NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA assist the spacewalking duo (image credit: NASA)
Out in space
- Before exiting the airlock, Thomas says, extreme focus is the overriding feeling.
- "Everybody's watching, so many people have been involved in the preparation, and the risks are so much higher when you're outside the Space Station," he explains. "The only thing you can't really prepare for are the day/night cycles.
- "During the night, you only have your helmet light, so you can't really see anything except what you're working on. And because you're working in all body orientations, it's easy to get disoriented. But you know you can always follow your tether back towards the hatch."
- After exiting the airlock, Thomas says one astronaut will prepare the worksite while the other breaks torque on the pre-positioned adapter plates. Each astronaut will then work to install the adapter plates, needed to replace two older batteries with one new one.
- The spacewalk on 25 October is the one of five scheduled for October. Even more are expected in November as Luca ventures out again with the complex task of repairing and enhancing dark matter hunter AMS-02 – a structure never designed to be maintained in orbit.
Figure 57: The EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) spacesuit. Learn about the components of the EMU spacesuit (image credit: ESA)
• October 9, 2019: For an astronaut looking out of the International Space Station windows, city lights are brighter than the stars. To tackle light pollution citizen scientists are urged to help map out the problem on their smartphones by identifying images of cities taken from space. 47)
- Astronaut pictures are the highest-resolution, color images of night available from orbit. "The International Space Station is the best observation point humankind has for monitoring Earth at night," says Kevin Gaston, project leader of the Lost at Night project that raises awareness of light pollution.
- There are half a million high-resolution pictures of Earth at night in NASA's Astronaut Photography of Earth archives. Most images in the archive are uncatalogued and do not have a location assigned to them.
- Lost at Night uses the power of citizen science to match images and identify the location of the astronauts' photographs online.
- This helps the study of light pollution and how it affects life on our planet.
- Artificial light has a broad range of impacts on the biological clock of both nocturnal and diurnal species. Light changes lead to knock-on effects that can impact whole ecosystems, from plant flowering times to migration disruptions for birds and turtles. Bright nights affect people's sleep and can negatively impact health.
- More astronaut pictures and more clues from Earth's inhabitants will help researchers better evaluate these effects over time and encourage actions to optimize street lighting.
The human gaze
- Human eyes can help shine a light on the huge catalog.
- "While computer algorithms have trouble distinguishing between stars, the Moon and cities, people are more reliable when it comes to recognizing patterns and analyzing complex images," says Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, a research fellow at the UK's University of Exeter and lead investigator of the project.
- Over 30,000 images had their location pinpointed on by volunteers, but more help is wanted to complete the puzzle.
- "We don't know which direction the astronauts pointed the camera from the Station. We only know the time it was taken and the area of Earth they were flying over," explains Alejandro.
- The website invites you to identify cities lit up at night within a range of a 1000 km.
Figure 58: The Iberian Peninsula at night, showing Spain and Portugal. Madrid is the bright spot just above the center (image credit: NASA)
- "Forget about playing Candy Crush in idle times. This is a great opportunity to learn about geography, the distribution of human activity and how your home town looks like from space," adds Alejandro.
- There are many scientific projects associated with images taken from the International Space Station.
- Astronauts take these pictures in their free time from the Space Station's Cupola, a seven-window observation module.
- "European astronauts are talented photographers, but it is not only about sharing beautiful pictures. Their contribution is key to scientifically demonstrate the true extent and impact of light pollution," points out Lucía García, project manager of the precursor Cities at Night project.
Figure 59: SA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the International Space Station 3 February 2015 during her Futura mission. Samantha is living and working on the Station as part of the Expedition 42 crew (image credit: ESA7NASA)
- Users are presented an image from an unknown city and they must try to find the best match by comparing it with several options.
- Because humans make mistakes too, this initiative needs inputs from five people per image to bring the margin of error down. From there, artificial intelligence takes over.
- The objective is to identify 90,000 images – enough to train artificial intelligence to automatically recognize a collection of pixels and locate images.
Figure 60: Lost at Night interface. To tackle light pollution citizen scientists are urged to help map out the problem on their smartphones by identifying images of cities taken from space. Lost at Night uses the power of citizen science to match images and identify the location of the astronauts' photographs online. Users are presented an image from an unknown city and they must try to find the best match by comparing it with several options. This helps the study of light pollution and how it affects life on our planet (image credit: Lost at Night)
• October 8, 2019: This day (Tuesday) was packed with more spacewalk preparations along with ongoing microgravity research aboard the International Space Station. The six-member Expedition 61 crew also conducted emergency response training and cargo transfers from a Japanese cargo craft. 48)
- NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch are going out on their second spacewalk together Friday at 7:50 a.m. EDT. The duo today reviewed spacewalk procedures and set up the tools they will use to continue upgrading the station's large nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries.
- Commander Luca Parmitano serviced U.S. spacesuit components and practiced Canadarm2 robotics maneuvers to support Friday's excursion. NASA TV coverage begins its live coverage of October's second spacewalk at 6:30 a.m.
- Morgan had a few moments set aside Tuesday to swap batteries inside Astrobee, the free-flying robotic assistant being tested aboard the orbiting lab. Afterward, he joined NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir inside Japan's HTV-8 resupply ship to continue unpacking crew supplies and station hardware.
- Koch switched to space gardening after spacewalk reviews and watered plants in the Columbus laboratory module. She and Meir finally wrapped up the workday with some light maintenance work in the station's environmental health system.
- All six crewmembers, including cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka, reviewed emergency roles and responsibilities after lunch today. The crew familiarized itself with safety gear, communication protocols, escape paths and evacuation procedures.
Figure 61: Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) assists NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan (left) and Christina Koch (right) in their U.S. spacesuits (image credit: NASA)
• October 6, 2019: Lightning struck the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona along the northern rim of the Grand Canyon on July 12, 2019, starting a wildfire (the Castle Fire) that would eventually burn more than 19,000 acres. As it was still burning almost a month later, an astronaut onboard the International Space Station shot this photograph of smoke-filled canyons in the region. 49)
- During morning and evening hours, dense smoke often settles in low-lying areas and becomes trapped due to temperature inversions—when a layer within the lower atmosphere acts as a lid and prevents vertical mixing of the air. Steep canyon walls act as a horizontal blockade, concentrating the smoke within the deepest parts of the canyon and increasing the strength of the inversion. As the day progresses and temperatures rise, the air will usually begin to mix and the smoke will no longer be confined to the canyon.
- As this image shows, without vertical mixing, the smoke from Lookout Canyon travels throughout the extensive system of side canyons, spreading the smoke to different areas near the ground, rather than dispersing upward.
Figure 62: This astronaut photograph ISS060-E-38049 was acquired on August 20, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using an 800 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 60 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Sara Schmidt)
• October 3, 2019: NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday, alongside Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The crew landed safely at 6:59 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan. 50)
- Hague and Ovchinin launched March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch. Six hours later, they began their 203-day mission on the station, orbiting Earth 3,248 times and traveling 86.1 million miles.
- Koch remains aboard the orbiting laboratory for an extended mission that will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman, in preparation for human missions to the Moon and Mars. She is expected to return to Earth in February 2020, almost a year after her launch.
Figure 63: NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut from United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hazzaa Ali Almansoori returned to Earth from the International Space Station at 6:59 am in Kazakhstan (image credit: NASA)
- For Almansoori, this landing completed an eight-day stay on the station that covered 128 orbits of Earth and a journey of 3.1 million miles since launching Sept. 25 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos. Almansoori made history as he became the first person from the UAE to fly in space.
- After postlanding medical checks, Hague will return to Houston, and Ovchinin and Almansoori will return to Star City, Russia.
- The Expedition 60 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth's distribution of carbon dioxide.
- Hague conducted three spacewalks during his mission, totaling 19 hours and 56 minutes. Ovchinin conducted one spacewalk lasting 6 hours and 1 minute.
- Hague's first two spacewalks in March continued the overall upgrade of the station's power system with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries on one pair of the station's solar arrays. During his third spacewalk, he and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan successfully installed the second of two international docking adapters that Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft will use to connect to the space station.
- Hague completes his second flight in space totaling 203 days, while Ovchinin has now spent 375 days during three flights. Hague and Ovchinin flew together on an abbreviated mission in October 2018, cut short by a technical problem that triggered an ascent abort minutes after launch and a safe landing back on Earth.
- When the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft with Hague, Ovchinin and Almansoori undocked at 3:37 a.m. Oct. 3, Expedition 61 officially began aboard the station, with NASA astronauts Koch, Meir and Morgan, cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos as flight engineers, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano as the station's commander.
• October 1, 2019: When Earth is so far away, it helps to have friends nearby. The usual six-astronaut crew of the International Space Station welcomed three more and a cargo vehicle last week, making for a full house on the orbital outpost. 51)
Figure 64: The arrival of NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and the first United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri on Friday (27 September) was followed by the Japanese HTV-8 space freighter the next day, bringing over four tons of supplies and fresh science (image credit: ESA).
- With nine people now on board, the Space Station is even busier and nosier than usual, including at mealtimes. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this image of the team gathered for a celebratory dinner in the Russian Zvezda module, the food preparation area of the Space Station. He captioned it: "Celebrating three birthdays in one week (me, and Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin), wearing the t-shirts of our ‘space band': ‘Kryk Chayky'- ‘The cry of the seagull.'"
- The seagulls, like shared mealtimes, are one way the crew cope with the oddities of life in space. From isolation and disturbed day-night rhythms to the hums and buzzes of the Space Station, living in space can be stressful. Astronauts try to maintain a routine that includes social time to unwind and build camaraderie.
- This is especially important in a multicultural environment. A total of 239 people from 19 countries have visited the space home, and as of Luca's current mission Beyond, there are 4 nationalities on board.
- Luca is preparing to take over command of the Space Station, when current commander cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and UAE astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri return to Earth in the early hours of 3 October.
- In the meantime, it is not all fun and band practice for the crew. They are hard at work on science experiments and, perhaps more importantly this week, station maintenance. Read more about the experiments and chores in the biweekly roundup.
• September 30, 2019: Three newcomers and two spacecraft make a full house in space. The population of the International Space Station rose to nine last week while European science focused on bone loss, time perception and routine maintenance. 52)
- ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano welcomed aboard NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and the first United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri. Following their arrival on the Soyuz spacecraft, Japan's HTV-8 space freighter docked to the Station with over four tonnes of supplies and new science experiments.
- A total of 239 people from 19 countries have visited the space home, where living quarters are now even noisier than usual as humming fans and the creaking of the Station's shell join with the sounds of nine busy astronauts on board.
- All astronauts lose up to 1% of their bone mass each month in space, a similar rate of decrease to that experienced by people with osteoporosis on Earth. This disease results in loss of calcium and a more brittle bone structure.
- Studying what happens during long spaceflights offers a good insight into the process of osteoporosis and helps develop methods to combat it. The Early Detection of Osteoporosis in Space experiment looks at changes in bone structure before and after flight.
- Cosmonaut Aleksander Skvortsov is 53 years old and this is his third long stay on the Space Station. Halfway through his mission, he took blood samples for scientists to study how his skeleton is coping when its supporting function is cancelled out by microgravity.
Figure 65: NutrISS experiment. Getting meals right is an aspect of mission design, so the Nutrition Monitoring for the International Space Station (NutrISS) experiment is tracking Luca's energy balance. - Using the EveryWear astronaut app and a ‘bioelectric impedance' device to measure his bodily conductivity, Luca has been tracking his fat to mass ratio. The science teams on Earth hope that a carefully-tailored high-protein diet could limit the typical microgravity-driven loss of bone and muscle. EveryWear is an iPad-based application that collects physiology and medical data from astronauts on the International Space Station. It is connected to wearable biomedical sensors that record exercise, heart rate and sleep quality. Its main use is as a food diary. The astronaut simply scans the barcode of the food with the built-in tablet camera, classify it as breakfast, lunch dinner or snack, and add how water was consumed (image credit: ESA/NASA)
- Researchers behind the Nutrition Monitoring for the International Space Station (NutrISS) experiment believe that a carefully-tailored high-protein diet could limit microgravity-induced bone and muscle loss in astronauts.
- For the third time during his mission Beyond, Luca tracked his fat to mass ratio with a bio-impedance device and logged the meals consumed during the week using the EveryWear astronaut app. Expert nutritionists use the data to monitor and provide advice to keep him healthy.
• September 30, 2019: Scientific studies recently conducted aboard the International Space Station included testing algorithms to control free-flying satellites, evaluating the flow of amyloids in microgravity and more. On Sept. 25, the Expedition 60 crew welcomed members of Expedition 61 including NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, along with a ROSCOSMOS spaceflight participant from the United Arab Emirates, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. In addition, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-IIB rocket launched Sept. 24 for a four-day trip to bring supplies and science investigations to the station. 53)
- The space station provides a platform for long-duration research on the human body in microgravity and for testing technologies for traveling farther into deep space, which supports Artemis, NASA's plans to go forward to the Moon and on to Mars.
Figure 66: NASA astronaut Nick Hague works on the Ring Sheared Drop investigation in the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox as NASA astronaut Christina Koch observes. Ring Sheared Drop examines the formation and flow of amyloids in microgravity (image credit: NASA)
Figure 67: Space to Ground: New Arrivals: 09/27/2019 (video credit: NASA Johnson)
• September 29, 2019: This photograph (Figure 68), taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station, offers a detailed view of parallel, linear dunes in Australia's Simpson Desert. The dunes have formed as a result of wind erosion and sand deposition taking place over thousands of years. Some of the dunes stretch more than 100 km in length. 54)
- Lake Eyre—also known as Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre—is Australia's largest salt lake. Some of it is visible in the right corner of the image, along with other playa lakes that stand out from the rippled landscape. Playas are flat, shallow lake beds that occur in arid and semi-arid climate zones. The dry lake beds are lighter in color due to a thin layer of salt deposits that reflect more light.
- The Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre basin spans parts of South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales. It is part of one of the world's largest internally draining river systems, which means that the rivers in the photo do not drain into the ocean. In this photo, Lake Eyre has a higher volume of water than usual due to flooding that occurred earlier in the year.
Figure 68: The astronaut photograph ISS059-E-67912 was acquired on 19 May 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 210 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 59 crew (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
• September 27, 2019: Luca was launched to the International Space Station for his second mission, Beyond, on 20 July 2019. He will spend six months living and working on the orbital outpost where he will support more than 50 European experiments and more than 200 international experiments in space. 55)
Figure 69: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and the rest of the International Space Station crew celebrated European Day of Languages (26 September) with the following message: "Six friends, three different languages: and all speak at least two of those. Today, we celebrate the ability to speak other languages and the European linguistic diversity, a rich heritage of our history." (image credit: ESA/NASA)