ISS Operations Update – May 2, 2016

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Rodent Research 3 [Rodent Research 3, named after the sponsoring company Eli Lilly and Co., will conduct a close study of myostatin inhibition for the prevention of sekeletal muscle atrophy and weakness in mice during long-duration spaceflight. A rapid loss of bone and muscle mass is observed in astronauts during spaceflight, especially to the legs and spine at rates similar to atrophy in people with muscle-wasting deseases on Earth. The study makes use of mice as a model organism to examine the response to certain drugs preventing muscle or bone loss.]

Wet Lab RNA SmartCycler Experiment Session [The Wetlab RNA SmartCycler provides real-time quantitative gene expression analysis aboard ISS, enabling genomic studies in the unique space environment.]

Plant Gravity Sensing – Sample Fixing & Storage [The experiment looks at gravity sensing in thale cress, a generic model used in many plant studies. As part of the experiment, the plant is cultivated in microgravity and artificial gravity using a centrifuge to determine changes on a cellular level that point to the mechanism of gravisensing with particular focus on calcium channel activation through the MCA-1 protein. An increase of calcium within the cytoplasm of plants is known to occur in response to stimuli such as phytohormones, temperature and touch the mechanism of which has been studied extensively on Earth. Whether a calcium increase also occurs as a result of gravistimulation remains to be seen as gravity is difficult to control for ground-based tests. The mechanisms of underlying biochemical reaction paths that lead to gravitropism are fully unknown. Recent studies point to a protein, MCA-1, and an actin cytoskeleton that are involved in the transport of calcium to create a directional response in the presence of gravity. The current hypothesis is that amyloplasts (starch containing particles) sediment in the direction of the gravity vector as a result of their high mass. This sedimentation causes tension stress in actin fibers thus activating the mechanosensitive calcium channels. Whether this system of channels and actin fibers also forms in microgravity is unknown.]

ENERGY Experiment Session [Energy = Astronaut’s Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight – Human Research Payload. ENERGY measures changes in energy balance during long term space flight, adaptations in the components of the Total Energy Expenditure and it will derive an equation for the energy requirements of astronauts. For the crew members, ENERGY includes a special diet, urine sampling, oxygen uptake measurements and diet logging.]

Other Activities:

Nominal Inspections/Servicing Tasks (Morning Inspection, Caution & Warning Panel Check, Sozh System Maintenance) (Russian Crew)

Dragon SpX-8 Cargo Packing