NASA ‘s 29th SpaceX commercial resupply services (CRS) mission is set to deliver a host of scientific experiments and technology demonstrations to the International Space Station (ISS). These studies aim to enhance our understanding of various aspects of space science and technology. Here are some of the key experiments aboard this mission:
NASA; LASER COMMUNICATION FROM SPACE: ILLUMA-T INVESTIGATION
The ILLUMA-T investigation explores laser or optical communication capabilities on the ISS. An external terminal on the station uses laser or optical communications to transmit high-resolution data to NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) system, which orbits Earth in geosynchronous orbit. The LCRD then transmits the data to optical ground stations in Hawaii and California. This system, employing invisible infrared light, allows for higher data transmission rates than traditional radio frequency systems. It paves the way for using laser communications on spacecraft orbiting the Moon or Mars.
This technology offers a more compact, lightweight, and energy-efficient alternative to radio systems. Its smaller size opens up space for scientific instruments, lower weight reduces launch costs, and reduced power usage minimizes the strain on spacecraft batteries.
NASA; WATCHING WAVES IN THE ATMOSPHERE: ATMOSPHERIC WAVES EXPERIMENT
The AWE utilizes an infrared imaging instrument to measure atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs) – disturbances in the Earth’s atmosphere that resemble waves in water. AGWs play a crucial role in the climate system, transferring energy and momentum. While they start relatively small at the source, they amplify at higher altitudes, potentially indicating climate changes not easily observable at lower altitudes. This long-term investigation provides valuable insights into AGWs and their impact on Earth’s atmosphere, weather, and climate.
Furthermore, scientists are exploring how AGWs affect space weather, which influences space- and ground-based communications and navigation systems. Understanding the connection between AGWs and space weather could help mitigate its effects.
Space Flight-Induced Ovarian and Estrogen Signaling Dysfunction, Adaptation, and Recovery
This investigation, sponsored by NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division, delves into the combined effects of spaceflight, nutritional stress, and environmental stress on the control of ovulation and its impact on bone health. The research could lead to a better understanding of stress-related effects on ovulation and bone health, with potential applications for treatments on Earth.
This investigation, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), explores the replacement of multi-filtration beds used in water recovery on the space station with Aquaporin Inside Membranes (AIMs). These membranes incorporate proteins found in biological cells to filter water more efficiently with less energy. This testing could demonstrate the effectiveness of AIM technology in eliminating contaminants from space station wastewater. Additionally, the technology could have applications in extreme environments on Earth, such as military and emergency settings.
NASA; GAUCHO LUNG
Sponsored by the ISS National Lab, the Gaucho Lung study examines how mucus in the respiratory system affects the delivery of drugs carried in liquid plugs. Conducting this research in microgravity allows scientists to isolate factors involved in the process, potentially leading to optimized targeted respiratory treatments. It may also inform strategies to control contamination in tubing for liquids used in healthcare and the food industry.
The SpaceX CRS-29 mission showcases NASA’s commitment to advancing space research, technology, and our understanding of life beyond Earth. These experiments and demonstrations contribute to our knowledge and could have far-reaching applications both in space and on our home planet.