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Health Checks for Homebound Trio as External Dragon Ops Continue

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:46 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 39 crew continues conducting an array of life science work while getting the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft ready for its May 13 undocking. In Mission Control, robotics controllers are remotely operating the Canadarm2 to unload a pair of external experiments from the SpaceX Dragon.

The station crew members are basically subjects in many long-term experiments that investigate the effects of microgravity on their bodies. Part of their regular activities includes collecting blood, saliva and urine samples for analysis. Those samples are analyzed both in the orbital laboratory and on the ground.

For example, cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev started his day processing a sample of his blood for the Immuno experiment. The Russian investigation explores the changes in a crew member’s immunology and metabolism in space.

NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio began his day collecting his saliva and urine samples for another long-term study. Those samples were stowed in a science freezer known as the Minus Eight-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS.

Mastracchio also participated in another investigation known as Microbiome which observes how microbes living in and on a crew member’s body affects their health. He also stowed a failed pump from the Water Processing Assembly in the Dragon commercial cargo craft for return and inspection on Earth.

Commander Koichi Wakata experimented with the Hybrid Training study again Wednesday morning. The new Japanese research explores alternative exercise methods that may be useful to future crew members in smaller spacecraft flying beyond low-Earth orbit. He also participated in the Reversible Figures study that observes an astronaut’s perception in space.

Wakata was also assisted by Mastracchio as the duo performs final health checks before their return May 13. The Japanese astronaut measured his blood pressure while Mastracchio performed an ultrasound scan of the commander’s arteries. The Cardio Ox health check observes an astronaut’s cardiovascular system before, during and for several years after a mission to document possible long-term risks.

During the afternoon, Wakata sampled the station’s surfaces and air for microbes. He then assisted NASA astronaut Steve Swanson for an eye exam using a Fundoscope which is a standard eye imaging tool used in a doctor’s office.

Swanson began his day with the Sprint study which evaluates the use of high intensity, low volume exercise training to minimize loss of muscle, bone and cardiovascular function. He later sampled water from the Water Recycling System and worked on more transfers from the Dragon commercial cargo craft.

The cosmonauts, working in the Russian segment of the station, continued their complement of international research and laboratory maintenance.

Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov assisted Artemyev with the Immuno study during the morning. The veteran station resident along with Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin also worked on several of experiments. One study investigates chemical reactions in the atmosphere and while another observes international crew interactions.

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