Astronauts Set to Explore Brain Health, Plant Growth, and Fluid Shifts
NASA’s Expedition 71 is gearing up for an extraordinary journey to the International Space Station (ISS), with astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Tracy C. Dyson at the helm. Scheduled for launch in the upcoming months of February and March, this mission aims to delve into groundbreaking scientific investigations in the unique microgravity environment of space.
Moreover, among the key studies are explorations into neurological organoids, plant growth responses, and the management of fluid shifts in the human body.
Advancements in Neurological Research
Unraveling the Mysteries of Neuroinflammation
The Human Brain Organoid Models for Neurodegenerative Disease & Drug Discovery (HBOND) project stands at the forefront of neurological research aboard the ISS. Additionally, by studying neuroinflammation, which is prevalent in disorders like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s, researchers hope to accelerate drug discovery and therapeutic target identification.
Utilizing patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), this investigation could pave the way for improved diagnostics, offer insights into aging, and support the development of countermeasures for brain health during extended space missions.
Plant Life in Space
Understanding Plant Stress Responses
The Study on Plant Responses Against the Stresses of Microgravity and High Ultraviolet Radiation in Space (Plant UV-B) aims to understand how plants adapt to the stressors of space, including microgravity and UV radiation. Furthermore, this research is crucial for developing sustainable life-support systems for future lunar and Martian missions.
Additionally, as plants are envisioned to play a key role in providing food and oxygen for astronauts on long-duration journeys, gaining insights from this study is imperative.
Mitigating Health Risks in Microgravity
Exploring Solutions for Fluid Shifts
The Mitigating Headward Fluid Shifts with Veno-constrictive Thigh Cuffs During Spaceflight (Thigh Cuff) experiment investigates the potential of thigh pressure cuffs in countering the upward shift of body fluids in microgravity.
This condition, known as Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS), poses significant health risks to astronauts. Findings from this study could not only protect space travelers but also offer therapeutic insights for Earth-bound patients experiencing similar fluid accumulation issues.
Harnessing the Power of Algae
Spirulina as a Space Superfood
In collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Arthrospira-C (Art-C) investigation examines the behavior of the cyanobacterium Limnospira, commonly known as Spirulina, under spaceflight conditions.
Furthermore, this study assesses Spirulina’s potential to support life in space by producing oxygen, removing carbon dioxide, and serving as a nutritional supplement, thanks to its radioprotective properties.