ISS tests organisms, materials in space

Fri, 05 Aug 2022 00:58:10 GMT
Space Daily

Houston TX (SPX) Aug 05, 2022 Space may look empty, but it contains extreme temperatures, high...

Materials and equipment on the outside of the International Space Station are exposed to atomic oxygen and other charged particles as it orbits the Earth at the very edge of our atmosphere.

"There are ways to test the various components of space exposure individually on the ground, but the only way to get the combined effect of all of them at the same time is on orbit," says Mark Shumbera of Aegis Aerospace, which owns and operates the MISSE Flight Facility, a platform for space exposure studies on station.

Some of these missions help researchers understand how new technologies react to the space environment.

Materials used as spacecraft insulation can become brittle in space due to radiation and temperature cycling on orbit.

During exposure on the space station, dried Chroococcidiopsis cells received an ionizing radiation dose equivalent to a trip to Mars.

Another investigation using the EXPOSE-R-2 facility found signs of life in melanin-containing fungi after 16 months of exposure to space.

Fungal melanin pigment seems to play a role in cellular resistance to extreme conditions, including radiation, and may have potential for use as radiation protection on future deep space missions.

In the experiment, a thin layer of one strain of melanized fungus decreased radiation levels by almost 2% and potentially as much as 5%. In addition to fungi, researchers used the ESA platform to expose the resting stages of some 40 species of multicellular animals and plants to space for the EXPOSE-R IBMP investigation.

As humans explore farther into space and stay there longer, tests performed on the space station's exposure platforms help ensure the materials and systems they take along are up for the trip.

Research Report:Absence of increased genomic variants in the cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis exposed to Mars-like conditions outside the space station.