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: orbit
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.
INTRODUCTION: Postflight postural ataxia reflects both the control strategies adopted for movement in microgravity and the direct effects of deconditioning. Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) has been used during the first decade of the International Space Station (ISS) expeditions to quantify the initial postflight decrements and recovery of postural stability. METHODS: The CDP data were obtained on 37 crewmembers as part of their pre- and postflight medical examinations. Sensory organization tests evaluated the ability to make effective use of (or suppress inappropriate) visual, vestibular, and somatosensory information for balance control. This report focuses on eyes closed conditions with either a fixed or sway-referenced base of support, with the head erect or during pitch-head tilts (+/- 20 degrees at 0.33 Hz). Equilibrium scores were derived from peak-to-peak anterior-posterior sway. Motor-control tests were also used to evaluate a crewmember’s ability to automatically recover from unexpected support-surface perturbations. RESULTS: The standard Romberg condition was the least sensitive. Dynamic head tilts led to increased incidence of falls and revealed significantly longer recovery than head-erect conditions. Improvements in postflight postural performance during the later expeditions may be attributable to higher preflight baselines and/or advanced exercise capabilities aboard the ISS. CONCLUSIONS: The diagnostic assessment of postural instability is more pronounced during unstable-support conditions requiring active head movements. In addition to supporting return-to-duty decisions by flight surgeons, the CDP provides a standardized sensorimotor measure that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of countermeasures designed to either minimize deconditioning on orbit or promote reconditioning upon return to Earth.
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.
Manned space flight induces a reduction in immune competence among crew and is likely to cause deleterious changes to the composition of the gastrointestinal, nasal, and respiratory bacterial flora, leading to an increased risk of infection. The space flight environment may also affect the susceptibility of microorganisms within the spacecraft to antibiotics, key components of flown medical kits, and may modify the virulence characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms that contaminate the fabric of the International Space Station and other flight platforms. This review will consider the impact of true and simulated microgravity and other characteristics of the space flight environment on bacterial cell behavior in relation to the potential for serious infections that may appear during missions to astronomical objects beyond low Earth orbit.
Combustion of clear cast polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) samples 10 cm long by either 1 or 2 cm wide with thicknesses ranging from 1-5 mm was investigated in opposed flow. Tests included both one sided and two sided burns. The samples were burned in a flow duct within the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) on the International Space Station (ISS) to ensure true microgravity conditions. The experiment took place in opposed flow with a varying oxygen concentration (uncontrolled) and varying flow;velocities (controlled). Flames are recorded on two cameras and later tracked to determine spread rate.;Assuming a linear profile between oxygen concentration at the start and the end of each test we made graphs of oxygen concentration vs. time for each test. From these we created flammability maps showing the flame behavior at different oxygen concentrations and flow velocities. Additionally we have conducted an extinction analysis, plotting the oxygen concentration against the flow velocity at;the time of extinction with respect to type of test (one sided or two sided).;Currently we are modeling combustion of flat PMMA;samples in microgravity using Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS 5.5.3). The entire modeling for BASS-II is done in DNS mode because of the laminar conditions and small domain. The model employs the same test sample and MSG geometry as the experiment. The model predicts a higher flame spread rate than that observed in experiments. So we look to modify the chemical kinetics and materials;properties to improve the model. Also we plan to do a domain study and grid sensitivity analysis in future.
Characteristics of local human skeleton responses to microgravity and drug treatment for osteoporosis in clinic
Analysis of the results of long term investigations of bones in cosmonauts on board Mir orbital sta tion(OS) and International Space Station (ISS) (n = 80) was performed. Theoretically predicted (evolution ary predefined) change in mass of different skeleton bones was found to be correlated (r = 0.904) with the position relative to Earth’s gravity vector. Vector dependence of bone loss results from local specificity of expression of bone metabolism genes, which reflects mechanical prehistory of skeleton structures in the evo lution of Homo erectus. Genetic polymorphism is accountable for high individual variability of bone loss, which is attested by the dependence of bone loss rate on polymorphism of certain genetic markers of bone metabolism. The type of the orbital vehicle did not affect the individual specific stability of the bone loss ratio in different segments of the skeleton. This fact is considered as a phenotype fingerprint of local metabolism in the form of a locus specific spatial structure of distribution of non collagen proteins responsible for posi tion regulation of endosteal metabolism. Drug treatment of osteoporosis (n = 107) evidences that recovery rate depends on bone location; the most likely reason is different effectiveness of local osteotropic interven tion into areas of bustling resorption.
Intrinsic cardiovascular autonomic regulatory system of astronauts exposed long-term to microgravity in space: observational study
The fractal scaling of the long-term heart rate variability (HRV) reflects the ‘intrinsic’ autonomic regulatory system. Herein, we examine how microgravity on the ISS affected the power-law scaling β (beta) of astronauts during a long-duration (about 6 months) spaceflight. Ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring was performed on seven healthy astronauts (5 men, 52.0 ± 4.2 years of age) five times: before launch, 24 ± 5 (F01) and 73 ± 5 (F02) days after launch, 15 ± 5 days before return (F03), and after return to Earth. The power-law scaling β was calculated as the slope of the regression line of the power density of the MEM spectrum versus frequency plotted on a log10–log10 scale in the range of 0.0001–0.01 Hz (corresponding to periods of 2.8 h to 1.6 min). β was less negative in space (−0.949 ± 0.061) than on Earth (−1.163 ± 0.075; P o 0.025). The difference was more pronounced during the awake than during the rest/sleep span. The circadian amplitude and acrophase (phase of maximum) of β did not differ in space as compared with Earth. An effect of microgravity was detected within 1 month (F01) in space and continued throughout the spaceflight. The intrinsic autonomic regulatory system that protects life under serious environmental conditions on Earth is altered in the microgravity environment, with no change over the 6-month spaceflight. It is thus important to find a way to improve conditions in space and/or in terms of human physiology, not to compromise the intrinsic autonomic regulatory system now that;plans are being made to inhabit another planet in the near future.
Microgravity experiments burning cast PMMA cylindrical rods in axial flow have been conducted aboard the International Space Station in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) facility using the Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) flow duct, as part of the BASS-II experiment. Twenty-four concurrent-flow tests were performed, focusing on finding flammability limits as a function of oxygen and flow speed. The oxygen was varied by using gaseous nitrogen to vitiate the working volume of the MSG. The speed of the flow parallel to the rod was varied using a fan at the entrance to the duct. Both blowoff and quenching limits were obtained at several oxygen concentrations. Each experiment ignited the rod at the initially hemispherical stagnation tip of the rod, and allowed the flame to develop and heat the rod at a sufficient flow to sustain burning. For blowoff limit tests, the astronaut quickly turned up the flow to obtain extinction. Complementary 5.18-second Zero Gravity Facility drop tests were conducted to compare blowoff limits in short and long duration microgravity. For quenching tests, the flow was incrementally turned down and the flame allowed to stabilize at the new flow condition for at least the solid-phase response time before changing it again. Quenching was observed when the flow became sufficiently weak that the flame could no longer provide adequate heat flux to compensate for the heat losses (conduction into the rod and radiation). A surface energy balance is presented that shows the surface radiative loss exceeds the conductive loss into the rod near the limit. The flammability boundary is shown to represent a critical Damkohler number, expressed in terms of the reaction rate divided by the stretch rate. For the blowoff branch, the boundary exhibits a linear dependence on oxygen concentrationandstretchrate,indicatingthatthetemperatureatblowoffmustbefairlyconstant. Forthe quenching branch, the dominance of the exponential nature of the Arrhenius kinetics reaction rate indicates that the temperature is critical.