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NASA Space Science

Huge ISS Science Report Released 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-guys-we-don't-need-the-moon-really dept.
Earthquake Retrofit writes "NASA has released an extensive report (PDF) on science results from over 100 experiments performed at the International Space Station. From the summary: 'One of the most compelling results reported is the confirmation that the ability of common germs to cause disease increases during spaceflight, but that changing the growth environment of the bacteria can control this virulence. The Effect of Spaceflight on Microbial Gene Expression and Virulence experiment identified increased virulence of space-flown Salmonella typhimurium, a leading cause of food poisoning. New research on subsequent station missions will target development of a vaccine for this widespread malady." I can't tell if this is good news, bad, or both. Also from a quick look at the report, I see that soybeans grow bigger in space with no harmful effect."
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Huge ISS Science Report Released

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  • ISSv2? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @10:38AM (#29626801) Homepage Journal

    I wonder if there is an "ISS v2" on the cards or if they will only keep expanding this one?

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @11:12AM (#29627075)

    When it comes down to it, if food products are larger but do not provide additional "food value" to go with the size, the only benefit would be for those trying to lose weight, since there is less food "value" for a given mass. 1000 calories of something grown in space may take up more room, but it is still only 1000 calories worth of food. Now, if you take a plant that on Earth provides 1000 calories and when grown in space it provides 1500 calories, THEN that would be worth looking at.

    A reciprocal argument can be made about mass-farmed food on Earth. Generally the calorie content is higher in industrially farmed foods while the nutrient content is lower. Therefore it's a problem for those looking to lose weight because getting the required calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. are diluted relative to the calories that come along with them. Furthermore, since grains (the source ofproblematic omega-6 fatty acids) replace leaves (the source of important omega-3 fatty acids) in industrial meat farming, some important nutrients [wikipedia.org] are very difficult to consume regardless of the amount of calories consumed. Supplemental nutrients are often added to make up for these deficiencies, but considering that nutritionists have only vague ideas of which nutrients matter, whether quantity or ratio matter, or whether seemingly unimportant chemicals are necessary to properly utilize the nutrients that we know are important, this doesn't have a reliable effect.

  • by Garrett Fox (970174) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @11:17AM (#29627133) Homepage
    An easy way to taste this fact is to compare apples or strawberries of different sizes. (But presumably not comparing apples to strawberries.) Same total amount of sugar per fruit, usually, so the big ones are less sweet.
  • by Garrett Fox (970174) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @11:22AM (#29627177) Homepage
    As much as I respect him, I kind of blame Carl Sagan for the ISS. He argued that we should use a space station for international brotherhood, and it seems like that goal detracted from the goal of actually accomplishing something tangible.
  • Makes sense to me. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2009 @11:29AM (#29627253)

    In zero gravity every microbe is a potential airborne contagion.

    Think about it. A germ that usually causes symptoms like the common cold could be far more lethal when infecting the lungs instead of being limited by gravity to contact based exposure.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @02:01PM (#29628489) Homepage

    "engineering is sound to built a habitat in space"

    The Russians already proved that for a LOT less money with Mir.

    If a baby learns to take one step, do you think there's no point in its taking a two steps; it can just go right on from there to climb Mount Everest?

    Mir was a step. 350 m2, 120 tons.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @02:21PM (#29628631) Journal

    It's particularly worth noting that what's been done so far science-wise is only the beginning of science results from the ISS, as most of the effort so far has been in construction. The crew size was also just doubled this year, allowing for even more time to be spent devoted to science:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/6628585.html [chron.com]

    After 15 years of construction, narrow congressional votes, delays and, yes, cost overruns, the $100 billion international space station finally appears ready for prime time. ... In May the space station doubled its crew from three to six astronauts, and this summer two space shuttle missions delivered a new laboratory and critical scientific equipment.
    Then, earlier this month, a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to study the future of human spaceflight gave the station high marks, recommending its life be extended until at least 2020 and full funding to reach its potential.
    The station is now beginning to do just that, as astronauts use the ISS for its intended purpose as an outpost for scientific research in a weightless environment, and learning to live for long periods in space. ...

    Until now, crew efforts have focused on assembling disparate modules built by Russia, the United States, Japan and Europe into a cohesive whole. Since habitation began in 2000, therefore, astronauts have devoted only about 12,000 hours to scientific research.
    Now with the crew expansion, and likely completion of the station by early 2011 allowing astronauts to swap their hard hats for test tubes, NASA estimates that total to increase by a factor of eight by 2015, to about 90,000 hours.

    "We're just beginning to scratch the surface," said Julie Robinson, who oversees the ISS science program.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @03:06PM (#29628983) Homepage

    Well, let's see what NASA is claiming this time.

    • Materials experiment - tests how materials withstand space conditions. Been there, done that [wikipedia.org] with the Long Duration Exposure Facility in 1984-1990.
    • Capillary flow in microgravity - OK, but why?
    • Magnetorheologic fluids in microgravity - cute, but magnetic particle clutches were used in IBM printers back to the 1960s.
    • Interferometer for ambient air - may be useful, but didn't need to be developed in space.
    • Crystal growth - lots of crystal growth work. Crystals grown in zero G are more uniform than ones grown in 1G. But not useful enough to justify launch costs.
    • Bird eggs in space - zero G doesn't seem to affect development much. They didn't hatch the birds, though.
    • Plants in space - grew thale cress from seed to seed. Grows OK in zero G, no major changes. Seeds a little bigger. Also a dwarf-wheat-in-space project, which works OK.
    • Cell growth in space - some cell cultures grow well in orbit, some don't. Bubbles caught in the middle of a material are a problem.
    • Microbes in space - growth about the same as in 1 G. Many equipment breakdowns.
    • Microencapsuluation in space - making liquid-filled microballoons as part of drug production. Microencapsuluation is known, but in zero-G, some things can be microencapsulated that won't hold together long enough in 1G. Possibly useful.
    • Soldering in zero G - turns out to produce more flaws than in 1 G, because bubbles stay in the solder.
    • Active rack isolation - people moving around make things vibrate, so they had to put in a stable platform that compensated. That work would better have been done without humans around.
    • Human research program - why living in zero G for too long is not good for you.
    • Observing the earth - done far better by satellites.
    • "Educational activities" - NASA PR.

    This is many billions of dollars worth of work, remember.

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