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5 Out of this World Experiments Awaiting Crew-1 Space Scientists

5 Out of this World Experiments Awaiting Crew-1 Space Scientists

NASA
astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and JAXA (Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi embark on a historic
mission on November 14, 2020 aboard the Crew Dragon. NASA’s Crew-1 mission
marks the first certified crew rotation flight to the International Space
Station. During their 6-month stay on orbit, these crew members will don their
science caps and complete experiments in microgravity.  Check out five out of this world experiments
you can expect to see these space scientists working on during Expedition 64.

1. Space
Gardening

The Crew-1 astronauts
will become space farmers with the responsibility of tending to the rad(ish)
garden located in a facility known as the Advanced Plant
Habitat (APH). Researchers
are investigating radishes in the Plant Habitat-02 experiment as a candidate
crop for spaceflight applications to supplement food sources for astronauts. Radishes
have the benefits of high nutritional content and quick growth rates, making
these veggies an intriguing option for future space farmers on longer missions
to the Moon or Mars.

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2. Micro
Miners

Microbes
can seemingly do it all, including digging up the dirt (so to speak).  The BioAsteroid investigation
looks at the ability of bacteria to break down rock.  Future space explorers could use this process
for extracting elements from planetary surfaces and refining regolith, the type
of soil found on the moon, into usable compounds.  To sum it up, these microbial miners rock.

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3. Cooler
Exploration Spacesuits

The iconic
spacesuits used to walk on the moon and perform spacewalks on orbit are getting
an upgrade. The next generation spacesuit, the Exploration Extravehicular
Mobility Unit (xEMU), will be even cooler than before, both in looks and in
terms of ability to regulate astronaut body temperature.  The Spacesuit Evaporation Rejection Flight
Experiment (SERFE) experiment is a
technology demonstration being performed on station to look at the efficiency of
multiple components in the xEMU responsible for thermal regulation, evaporation
processes, and preventing corrosion of the spacesuits.

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4. Chips
in Space

Crew-1 can
expect to get a delivery of many types of chips during their mission.  We aren’t referring to the chips you would
find in your pantry.  Rather, Tissue Chips in Space is an initiative
sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to study 3D organ-like
constructs on a small, compact devices in microgravity. Organ on a chip
technology allows for the study of disease processes and potential therapeutics
in a rapid manner. During Expedition 64, investigations utilizing organ on a
chip technology will include studies on muscle loss, lung function, and the
blood brain barrier – all on devices the size of a USB flashdrive.

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5. The
Rhythm of Life

Circadian
rhythm, otherwise known as our “internal clock,” dictates our
sleep-wake cycles and influences cognition. Fruit flies are hitching a ride to
the space station as the subjects of the Genes in Space-7 experiment, created
by a team of high school students.  These
flies, more formally known as the Drosophila melanogaster, are a model
organism, meaning that they are common subjects of scientific study. Understanding
changes in the genetic material that influences circadian rhythm in
microgravity can shed light on processes relevant to an astronaut’s brain
function.

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