The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. The ISS program is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.
In this article, we will see some of the cool and important experiments that have been carried out (and couldn’t have been possible elsewhere).
Once you are in the space station, not only is there a minor loss in olfactory aptitude but there’s also a lot of new smells associated with ISS thanks to the way the air circulates through the space station. The nose would be used to know when food is going stale before it actually goes stale, locate mold, and discover harmful levels of Carbon dioxide before the amount becomes problematic. After testing the nose in microgravity, it can then be used in Earthbound applications.
Mice Reproduction study as pre-requisite to human reproduction in future
It’s inevitable that at some point the first baby born in space is going to manifest. But before astronauts can mate in the ISS they have found out how space radiation affects mammalian reproduction. So astronauts are bringing freeze-dried mouse sperm to the ISS which is held for a period of up to one or two years. After the sperm stays on board for its cycle it’s brought back to Earth where it will then be looked over by space scientists who will use it to fertilize mouse eggs that have never left Earth.
As weird as this may sound, it’s a necessary test to find out if humans can sustain life on a long-term mission. So far there has been considerable DNA breakdown in the sperm after nine months on the ISS, but researchers are hoping to improve on those numbers.
An unexpected experiment
The space shuttle Columbia’s STS-107 mission in 2003 was devoted almost exclusively to science and research. It carried out dozens of experiments, including one that investigated the growth and reproductive behavior of the nematode worm C. elegans in microgravity.
Tragically, Columbia and its seven-astronaut crew were lost when the orbiter disintegrated upon re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere due to heat shield damage.
The nematodes, housed in specially designed canisters, survived the tragedy and were recovered alive. While the worms’ survival is but a tiny and peripheral part of the heartbreaking Columbia story, it taught scientists some lessons about the tenacity of life, and how it might spread from planet to planet.
“It’s the first demonstration that animals can survive a re-entry event similar to what would be experienced inside a meteorite,” Catharine Conley, then of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said in 2005. Conley was the principal investigator of the Columbia nematode experiment. “It shows directly that even complex small creatures originating on one planet could survive landing on another without the protection of a spacecraft.”
In the next part, we will cover more cool works done at ISS. Stay tuned