Monday, October 20, 2014

International Space Station: Astronauts continue with Business as Usual

Commander Maxim Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst are pictured in the Tranquility node of the International Space Station.

Image Credit: NASA

The six-person Expedition 41 crew of the International Space Station tackled a range of biomedical research and cargo transfers Friday, capping off a week that included the second of two U.S. spacewalks and preparations for a Russian spacewalk on Oct. 22.

For Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, most of the day’s science activity focused on a pair of protein crystal growth experiments, which utilize the station’s microgravity environment to grow protein crystals too fragile to form in Earth’s gravity.

Gerst used a reflective microscope to capture images of samples from the NanoRacks-Protein Crystal Growth-1 study, which uses commercial off-the shelf equipment to grow protein crystals on slides.

Later, Gerst joined Wiseman to deactivate and pack up the completed Commercial Protein Crystal Growth-HM experiment.

This investigation is expanding on an ongoing program into the complex realm of membrane proteins that help cells identify each other for immune responses and move molecules to and from a cell’s interior.

Pure crystals that yield information about the protein’s structure will open the way for a coherent, structure-based design of a broader range of medicines for treating diseases and disorders.

The Commercial Protein Crystal Growth-HM experiment, along with about 3,800 pounds of other cargo, is slated to return to Earth on Tuesday aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

After the robotics team at Houston’s Mission Control Center uses the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Dragon from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node, Wiseman, with assistance from Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore, will oversee the release of Dragon for its parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of California.

No comments:

Post a Comment