What We Learned This Year from Space Station Science

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is pictured in the cupola holding biomedical gear for the Marrow experiment. The study measures fat changes in the bone marrow before and after exposure to microgravity. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Dozens of experiments are going on at any given time aboard the International Space Station. Research conducted in 2020 is advancing our understanding in areas of study from Parkinson’s disease to combustion.

Space station research results published this year came from experiments performed and data collected during the past 20 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory. Between October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020, the station’s Program Research Office identified more than 300 scientific publications based on space station research.

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Science Payloads Set for Launch Aboard CRS-12 Mission

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 8, 2017 (CASIS PR) The SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle is poised to launch its 12th cargo resupply mission (CRS-12) to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than August 13th, 2017 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will carry more than 20 ISS National Laboratory payloads to conduct research across a variety of areas aimed at improving life on Earth, including research on Parkinson’s disease, new anti-bacterial compounds, new approaches to treating blood pressure, and pioneering new advances in the use of stem cells for repairing damage from disease, among many others. Thus far in 2017, the ISS National Lab has sponsored more than 100 separate experiments that have reached the station.

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Researchers to Test How Solids Dissolve in Space

The experiment module provides a field of view of six mixing vials at a time. (Credit: Zin Technologies)
The experiment module provides a field of view of six mixing vials at a time. (Credit: Zin Technologies)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Anyone who has been sick before knows you want relief as quickly as possible. An investigation soon taking place aboard the International Space Station could help bring that relief by improving design of tablets used to deliver medicine into the human body. The Hard to Wet Surfaces research looks at liquid-solid interactions and how certain pharmaceuticals dissolve, which may lead to more potent and effective medicines in space and on Earth.

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Scientists See the Details with High-Resolution Crystals

Multi-chamber crystallization plate with porous plastic inserts placed in the precipitant reservoirs to reduce wicking. (Credit: Kristofer Gonzalez-DeWhitt)
Multi-chamber crystallization plate with porous plastic inserts placed in the precipitant reservoirs to reduce wicking. (Credit: Kristofer Gonzalez-DeWhitt)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Protein crystals tend to grow larger and more perfectly in space than on Earth, where gravity and other forces interfere. For scientists studying protein crystal structures, the difference is like watching high-definition television on a large screen versus standard-definition on a tiny screen.

“If you’re watching a hockey game on a small screen at low resolution, you can see the players and hockey sticks and maybe, just maybe, the puck moving around,” said Kristofer Gonzalez-DeWhitt, a scientist at Eli Lilly and Company. “But in high resolution on a large screen, you can see sweat on a player’s face.”

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