The International Space Station is preparing to depart a US resupply ship and a Russian spacewalk next week. Meanwhile, the Expedition 66 crew is keeping up the pace of their research to explore how microgravity affects a variety of biological phenomena.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon has been docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing docking port since December 22 when it delivered more than 6,500 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware. It is now being prepared for departure on January 21, and to return to Earth a day later laden with completed space research and old laboratory equipment for analysis and inspection.
NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Baron and Raja Shari took turns Tuesday morning organizing and packing equipment inside the Cargo Dragon. Shari then spent the afternoon swapping out science freezer components inside the Dragon, which will soon house research samples for examination by scientists on Earth.
Barron later collected samples of roots and shoots from Arabidopsis plants grown on Petri plates and prepared them for stowage and analysis back on the ground. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hee worked on another investigation of botany in space while photographing and harvesting cotton plantations on the station to understand how weightlessness affects plant genes.
Thomas Marshburn, a NASA flight engineer, spent Tuesday on several human research and space biology missions. He concluded blood pressure measurements to study vascular aging, established a life sciences glovebox for an upcoming experiment, and then tested robots for a behavioral investigation. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA) also worked in the life sciences where he collected samples of microbes for analysis, exchanged particle samples inside a Mochii scanning electron microscope, and then underwent a perception test.
Two cosmonauts, station commander Anton Shkaplerov and flight engineer Pyotr Dobrov, continue to prepare for their spacewalk on January 19. Today, they created a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits that will be worn in the vacuum of space when they configured the station’s two newest units, the Nauka and the Prichal.
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