As a part of the NASA BASS and BASS-II experimental projects aboard the International Space Station, flame growth, spread and extinction over a composite cotton-fiberglass fabric blend (referred to as the SIBAL fabric) were studied in low-speed concurrent forced flows. The tests were conducted in a small flow duct within the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The fuel samples measured 1.2 and 2.2 cm wide and 10 cm long. Ambient oxygen was varied from 21% down to 16% and flow speed from 40 cm/s down to 1 cm/s. A small flame resulted at low flow, enabling us to observe the entire history of flame development including ignition, flame growth, steady spread (in some cases) and decay at the end of the sample. In addition, by decreasing flow velocity during some of the tests, low-speed flame quenching extinction limits were found as a function of oxygen percentage. The quenching speeds were found to be between 1 and 5 cm/s with higher speed in lower oxygen atmosphere. The shape of the quenching boundary supports the prediction by earlier theoretical models. These long duration microgravity experiments provide a rare opportunity for solid fuel combustion since microgravity time in ground-based facilities is generally not sufficient. This is the first time that a low-speed quenching boundary in concurrent spread is determined in a clean and unambiguous manner.
Research Containing: International Space Station
INTRODUCTION: Countermeasures to prevent or partially offset the negative physiologic changes that are caused by the effects of microgravity play an important role in supporting the performance of crewmembers in flight and their safe return to Earth. Research conducted in Russia on the orbital stations Salyut and Mir, as well as simulation experiments on the ground, have demonstrated that changes that occur during extended spaceflight in various physiologic systems can be prevented or significantly decreased by using countermeasures. Hardware and techniques used on the ISS have been substantially improved to reflect the experience of previous extended missions on Russian orbital stations. Countermeasures used during early ISS missions consisted of the U.S. treadmill (TVIS), cycle ergometer (capital VE, Cyrilliccapital BE, Cyrillic-3), a set of resistance bands, a postural muscle loading suit (Penguin-3), electrical stimulator (Tonus-3), compression thigh cuffs (Braslet-capital EM, Cyrillic), a lower body negative pressure (LBNP) suit (Chibis), a lower body g-loading suit (Kentavr), and water/salt supplements. These countermeasures are described in this article.
Transient gene and microRNA expression profile changes of confluent human fibroblast cells in spaceflight
Microgravity, or an altered gravity environment different from the 1 g of the Earth, has been shown to influence global gene expression patterns and protein levels in cultured cells. However, most of the reported studies that have been conducted in space or by using simulated microgravity on the ground have focused on the growth or differentiation of these cells. It has not been specifically addressed whether nonproliferating cultured cells will sense the presence of microgravity in space. In an experiment conducted onboard the International Space Station, confluent human fibroblast cells were fixed after being cultured in space for 3 and 14 d, respectively, to investigate changes in gene and microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles in these cells. Results of the experiment showed that on d 3, both the flown and ground cells were still proliferating slowly, as measured by the percentage of Ki-67(+) cells. Gene and miRNA expression data indicated activation of NF-kappaB and other growth-related pathways that involve hepatocyte growth factor and VEGF as well as the down-regulation of the Let-7 miRNA family. On d 14, when the cells were mostly nonproliferating, the gene and miRNA expression profile of the flight sample was indistinguishable from that of the ground sample. Comparison of gene and miRNA expressions in the d 3 samples, with respect to d 14, revealed that most of the changes observed on d 3 were related to cell growth for both the flown and ground cells. Analysis of cytoskeletal changes via immunohistochemistry staining of the cells with antibodies for alpha-tubulin and fibronectin showed no difference between the flown and ground samples. Taken together, our study suggests that in true nondividing human fibroblast cells in culture, microgravity experienced in space has little effect on gene and miRNA expression profiles.-Zhang, Y., Lu, T., Wong, M., Wang, X., Stodieck, L., Karouia, F., Story, M., Wu, H. Transient gene and microRNA expression profile changes of confluent human fibroblast cells in spaceflight.
Revisit of Local X-Ray Luminosity Function of Active Galactic Nuclei with the MAXI Extragalactic Survey
We constructed a new X-ray (2–10 keV) luminosity function of Compton-thin active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in the local universe, using the first MAXI/GSC source catalog surveyed in the 4–10 keV band. The sample consists of 37 non-blazar AGNs at z = 0.002–0.2, whose identification is highly (>97%) complete. We confirmed the trend that the fraction of absorbed AGNs with NH > 1022 cm 2 rapidly decreases against the luminosity (LX), from 0.73 ̇0.10 at LX = 1042 43:5 erg s 1 to 0.12 ̇ 0.08 at LX = 1043:5–45:5 erg s 1 . The obtained luminosity function was well-fitted with a smoothly connected double power-law model whose indices are 1 = 0.84 (fixed) and 2 = 2.0 ̇ 0.2 below and above the break luminosity, L = 1043:3 ̇0:4 ergs 1, respectively. While the result of the MAXI/GSC agrees well with that of HEAO-1 at LX & 1043:5 ergs 1, it gives a larger number density at the lower luminosity range. A comparison between our luminosity function in the 2–10 keV band and that in the 14–195 keV band obtained from the Swift/BAT survey indicates that the averaged broad-band spectra in the 2–200 keV band should depend on the luminosity, approximated by Γ 1.7 for LX . 1044 ergs 1, while Γ 2.0 for LX & 1044 ergs 1. This trend was confirmed by the correlation between the luminosities in the 2–10 keV and 14–195 keV bands in our sample. We argue that there is no contradiction in the luminosity functions between above and below 10 keV once this effect is taken into account.
This paper describes the activities for utilization and control of ELITE S2 on board the International Space Station (ISS). ELITE S2 is a payload of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for quantitative human movement analysis in weightlessness. Within the frame of a bilateral agreement with NASA, ASI has funded a number of facilities, enabling different scientific experiments on board the ISS. ELITE S2 has been developed by the ASI contractor Kayser Italia, delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in 2006 for pre-flight processing, launched in 2007 by the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-118), integrated in the U.S. lab and used during the Increments 16 and 17 through 2008. The ELITE S2 flight segment comprises equipment mounted into an Express Rack and a number of stowed items to be deployed for experiment performance (video cameras and accessories). The ground segment consists in a User Support Operations Center (based at Kayser Italia) enabling real-time payload control and a number of User Home Bases (located at the ASI and PIs premises), for the scientific assessment of the experiment performance. Two scientific protocols on reaching and cognitive processing have been successfully performed in five sessions involving two ISS crewmembers: IMAGINE 2 and MOVE.
Space biology provides an opportunity to study plant physiology and development in a unique microgravity environment. Recent space studies with plants have provided interesting insights into plant biology, including discovering that plants can grow seed-to-seed in microgravity, as well as identifying novel responses to light. However, spaceflight experiments are not without their challenges, including limited space, limited access, and stressors such as lack of convection and cosmic radiation. Therefore, it is important to design experiments in a way to maximize the scientific return from research conducted on orbiting platforms such as the International Space Station. Here, we provide a critical review of recent spaceflight experiments and suggest ways in which future experiments can be designed to improve the value and applicability of the results generated. These potential improvements include: utilizing in-flight controls to delineate microgravity versus other spaceflight effects, increasing scientific return via next-generation sequencing technologies, and utilizing multiple genotypes to ensure results are not unique to one genetic background. Space experiments have given us new insights into plant biology. However, to move forward, special care should be given to maximize science return in understanding both microgravity itself as well as the combinatorial effects of living in space.
Bone loss and renal stone risk are longstanding concerns for astronauts. Bone resorption brought on by spaceflight elevates urinary calcium and the risk of renal stone formation. Loss of bone calcium leads to concerns about fracture risk and increased long-term risk of osteoporosis. Bone metabolism involves many factors and is interconnected with muscle metabolism and diet. We report here bone biochemistry and renal stone risk data from astronauts on 4- to 6-month International Space Station missions. All had access to a type of resistive exercise countermeasure hardware, either the Advanced Resistance Exercise Device (ARED) or the Interim Resistance Exercise Device (iRED). A subset of the ARED group also tested the bisphosphonate alendronate as a potential anti-resorptive countermeasure (Bis+ARED). While some of the basic bone marker data have been published, we provide here a more comprehensive evaluation of bone biochemistry with a larger group of astronauts. Regardless of exercise, the risk of renal stone formation increased during spaceflight. A key factor in this increase was urine volume, which was lower during flight in all groups at all time points. Thus, the easiest way to mitigate renal stone risk is to increase fluid consumption. ARED use increased bone formation without changing bone resorption, and mitigated a drop in parathyroid hormone in iRED astronauts. Sclerostin, an osteocyte-derived negative regulator of bone formation, increased 10-15% in both groups of astronauts who used the ARED (p<0.06). IGF-1, which regulates bone growth and formation, increased during flight in all 3 groups (p<0.001). Our results are consistent with the growing body of literature showing that the hyper-resorptive state of bone that is brought on by spaceflight can be countered pharmacologically or mitigated through an exercise-induced increase in bone formation, with nutritional support. Key questions remain about the effect of exercise-induced alterations in bone metabolism on bone strength and fracture risk.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for muscle, cardiovascular, and bone health on Earth, and during space flight. We sought to evaluate magnesium status in 43 astronauts (34 male, 9 female; 47 +/- 5 years old, mean +/- SD) before, during, and after 4-6-month space missions. We also studied individuals participating in a ground analog of space flight (head-down-tilt bed rest; n = 27 (17 male, 10 female), 35 +/- 7 years old). We evaluated serum concentration and 24-h urinary excretion of magnesium, along with estimates of tissue magnesium status from sublingual cells. Serum magnesium increased late in flight, while urinary magnesium excretion was higher over the course of 180-day space missions. Urinary magnesium increased during flight but decreased significantly at landing. Neither serum nor urinary magnesium changed during bed rest. For flight and bed rest, significant correlations existed between the area under the curve of serum and urinary magnesium and the change in total body bone mineral content. Tissue magnesium concentration was unchanged after flight and bed rest. Increased excretion of magnesium is likely partially from bone and partially from diet, but importantly, it does not come at the expense of muscle tissue stores. While further study is needed to better understand the implications of these findings for longer space exploration missions, magnesium homeostasis and tissue status seem well maintained during 4-6-month space missions.
Cerium oxide (CeO2) was prepared using a controlled-precipitation method under microgravity at the International Space Station (ISS). For comparison, ceria was also synthesized under normal-gravity conditions (referred as control). The Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area, pore volume and pore size analysis results indicated that the ceria particles grown in space had lower surface area and pore volume compared to the control samples. Furthermore, the space samples had a broader pore size distribution ranging from 30–600 Å, whereas the control samples consisted of pore sizes from 30–50 Å range. Structural information of the ceria particles were obtained using TEM and XRD. Based on the TEM images, it was confirmed that the space samples were predominantly nano-rods, on the other hand, only nano-polyhedra particles were seen in the control ceria samples. The average particle size was larger for ceria samples synthesized in space. XRD results showed higher crystallinity as well as larger mean crystal size for the space samples. The effect of sodium hydroxide concentration on synthesis of ceria was also examined using 1 M and 3 M solutions. It was found that the control samples, prepared in 1 M and 3 M sodium hydroxide solutions, did not show a significant difference between the two. However, when the ceria samples were prepared in a more basic medium (3 M) under microgravity, a decrease in the particle size of the nano-rods and appearances of nano-polyhedra and spheres were observed.
Comprehensive analysis of the skin fungal microbiota of astronauts during a half-year stay at the International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a huge manned construct located approximately 400 km above the earth and is inhabited by astronauts performing space experiments. Because the station is within a closed microgravity environment, the astronauts are subject to consistent stress. This study analyzed the temporal changes in the skin fungal microbiota of 10 astronauts using pyrosequencing and quantitative PCR assay before, during, and after their stay in the ISS. Lipophilic skin fungi, Malassezia predominated most samples regardless of the collection period, body site (cheek or chest), or subject. During their stay in the ISS, the level of Malassezia colonization changed by 7.6- +/- 7.5-fold (mean +/- standard deviation) and 9.5- +/- 24.2-fold in cheek and chest samples, respectively. At the species level, M. restricta, M. globosa, and M. sympodialis were more abundant. In the chest samples, the ratio of M. restricta to all Malassezia species increased, whereas it did not change considerably in cheek samples. Fungal diversity was reduced, and the ratio of Malassezia to all fungal colonization increased during the astronauts’ stay at the ISS. The ascomycetous yeast Cyberlindnera jadinii was detected in abundance in the in-flight sample of 5 of the 10 astronauts. The microorganism may have incidentally adhered to the skin during the preflight period and persisted on the skin thereafter. This observation suggests the ability of a specific or uncommon microorganism to proliferate in a closed environment. Our study is the first to reveal temporal changes in the skin fungal microbiota of ISS astronauts. These findings will provide information useful for maintaining the health of astronauts staying in the space environment for long periods and for preventing infection due to the human skin microbiota.