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Eye Exams, Health Checks for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Jan 2, 2014 8:51 pm via: NASA
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Following a light-duty day to ring in the New Year, the International Space Station’s Expedition 38 crew supported biomedical research Thursday, with a special focus on ocular health.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins began his day with a periodic fitness evaluation as he worked out on the station’s exercise bike – the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization – while Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata measured Hopkins’ blood pressure.

Later, Hopkins and Wakata conducted a series of eye examinations on each other. Vision changes have been observed in some astronauts returning from long-duration spaceflight, and researchers want to learn more about its root causes and develop countermeasures to minimize this risk.  With assistance from flight surgeons on the ground, the two astronauts first used optical coherence tomography equipment to collect detailed imagery of their eyes, followed by an examination of the interior of the eyes using a fundoscope.

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio meanwhile performed some troubleshooting on the Biorack centrifuge for NanoRacks, a facility that provides lower-cost microgravity research facilities for small payloads utilizing a standardized “plug-and-play” interface. Mastracchio checked the three settings of the centrifuge, which is designed to simulate the gravity of the Earth, the moon and Mars.

Mastracchio, Wakata and Commander Oleg Kotov also participated in scheduled hearing tests.

Mastracchio and Hopkins took a break from their work to talk to reporters from Chicago’s WGN Radio. The two astronauts discussed research activities aboard the complex and the recent  pair of spacewalks that led to the successful replacement of a degraded pump module.

On the Russian side of the complex, Kotov and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy and Mikhail Tyurin enjoyed a relatively light-duty day.

.Kotov and Ryazanskiy, who conducted an 8-hour, 7-minute spacewalk Dec. 27 to attempt the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras on a biaxial pointing platform on the exterior of the Zvezda service module, spent part of Thursday verifying that telemetry connectors routed inside Zvezda were mated properly.

While the crew worked through the day’s tasks, ground controllers at the Mission Control Center in Houston remotely commanded Canadarm2, the station’s 57-foot robotic arm, to grapple the Dextre Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator for a routine inspection of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) with Dextre’s cameras. AMS-02, the largest and most advanced magnetic spectrometer in space, gathers cosmic particles in an effort to enhance our understanding of the origin of the universe.  Once the periodic inspection is complete, Dextre will be returned to a power and data grapple fixture on the station’s railcar, or Mobile Base System.

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