PRODEX Involvement with Astrolab
9 August 2006ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter launched into space with the STS-121 Discovery mission on 4 July, for a mission that is due to last about 6 months, making him the first European astronaut to undertake a long-duration mission onboard the International Space Station. He will also be the first ESA astronaut to perform a spacewalk from the ISS and to become a member of an ISS Expedition crew.
The Astrolab Mission marks the first time that a European scientific programme has been assembled for a long-duration mission. The programme comes predominantly from scientific institutions across Europe, and includes experiments in human physiology, biology, physics and radiation dosimetry. Further activities focus on technology demonstrations, industrial experiments and education.
PRODEX supported experiments
CARDIOCOG-2 (A.Aubert, S.van Huffel), Belgium
The Cardiocog-2 experiment studies the consequences of weightlessness on the cardio-vascular system, as well as stress, cognitive and physiological reactions of an astronaut during their space mission.
On four occasions over the course of the mission the astronaut will undertake a half-hour protocol of normal and controlled breathing together with a stress test. Cardiac activity, respiration and blood pressure will be measured continuously during this activity using the Cardioscience equipment already on the ISS. This will be compared to additional data gathered during ground tests where ECG, blood pressure, respiration and ultrasound measurements are taken.
This is a continuation of the previous Cardiocog experiment and is proposed to continue with three additional long-term subjects. This experiment will increase the understanding of orthostatic intolerance (proneness for fainting), a common clinical problem.
BASE (P.Cornelis,N.Leys,J.Mahillon,M.Mergeay,R.Wattiez), Belgium
In the Bacterial Adaptation to Space Environments (BASE) experiment, the science team will study how bacteria cope with and adapt to the different space flight environmental parameters (e.g. weightlessness, cosmic radiation, space electromagnetism, space vibrations). Based on these results, scientists will try to assess how such adaptations might influence their potential to contaminate and biodeteriorate the space habitat, their potential to endanger crew health, or their function in waste recycling or food production systems. The scientists will also study the physiology, gene expression, gene re-arrangement and gene transfer of cultures of several model bacteria grown under microgravity and other spaceflight conditions.
YING (F.Delvaux,R.Willaert,L.Wijns), Belgium
This experiment will study the influence of weightlessness on Flow processes, cell-surface interaction on solid and cell-cell interaction in liquid media in yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Weightlessness will have a direct impact on the yeast cell physiology due to a changed gravitational micro-environment and in the case of yeast cell cultivation in liquid media, also the changed shear environment in microgravity will have an effect. The overall goal is to obtain a detailed insight into the importance of gravity and shear stress on the formation of organised cell structures, such as yeast flocs, biofilms and filaments, which are of considerable interest for both fundamental science and industry as well as the medical field.
ARISS (G.Bertels), Belgium
ARISS is an international association of national amateur radio societies of the countries participating in the ISS programme. For this mission, the specific objectives of ARISS are: to provide real time radio transmissions from the ISS, during which pupils in selected German, and Swiss primary schools will put questions to the ESA astronaut; and to build, develop and maintain the amateur radio activities on board the ISS. Among the children chosen, are the winners of national space-oriented competitions set up by ESA's ISS Education Office. The ground stations will be provided by local amateur radio clubs.
CASPER (M.O’Griofa), Ireland
The objective of the CASPER (Cardiac Adapted Sleep Parameter Electrocardiogram Recorder) experiment is to test and evaluate a method of monitoring sleep disturbance and sleep stability in weightlessness. CASPER combines objective physiological data and subjective inputs. Physiological data is obtained through a specially adapted vest, worn by the astronaut, with embedded sensors and cabling that connects ECG electrodes, for measuring heart rate, to a PDA for storing the heart rate data. Subjective inputs are obtained via a questionnaire,that runs on the same PDA. One questionnaire is completed both prior to and after each sleep period, during which the heart rate is measured.
PECS Supported Experiments
Matroshka 2 (J.Palvalvi), Hungary
The ESA Matroshka facility was installed on the external surface of the ISS on 27 February 2004 with the aim of studying radiation levels experienced by astronauts during spacewalk activities. It consists of a human shape (head and torso) called the Phantom, which is equipped with several active and passive radiation dosimeters.
Phantom is mounted inside a carbon fibre and reinforced plastic container which simulates a spacesuit. The facility was brought back inside the ISS on 18 August 2005 as part of Expedition 11 EVA activities. Passive radiation sensors were removed and returned to Earth with the Expedition 11 crew. The Matroshka facility is currently taking readings inside the ISS. In September 2006, Matroshka will once again be moved outside.