Category: international space station

New Glovebox Facility Heads to Space for Biolo…

The Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency
rocket is zooming toward the International
Space Station
carrying NASA’s Life
Sciences Glovebox
, a state-of-the-art microgravity research


JAXA’s HTV3, taken during Expedition 32

NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center
in Huntsville, Alabama, and their partners around the
world are excited to initiate new, high-value biological research in low-Earth

The Japanese rocket, hauling the
research facility and other cargo via the HTV-7 transfer vehicle, successfully
lifted off at

1:52 p.m. EDT

from Tanegashima Space Center off the coast of


Its launch marks a first for hauling
bulky equipment to space. Roughly the size of a large fish
tank, the Life Sciences Glovebox comes
in at 26 inches high, 35 inches wide and 24 inches deep, with 15 cubic feet of
available workspace.


“The Life Sciences Glovebox
is on its way to the space station to enable a host of biological and
physiological studies, including new research into microgravity’s
long-term impact on the human body
,” said Yancy Young, project manager at Marshall. “This
versatile facility not only will help us better protect human explorers on long
voyages into deep space, but it could aid medical and scientific advances
benefiting the whole world.”


Boeing engineers at Marshall modified a
refrigerator-freezer rack to house the core facility, using state-of-the-art,
3D-printing technology to custom design key pieces of the rack to secure the
unit in its protective foam clamshell.


NASA is now determining the roster of science
investigations lined up to make use of the facility, beginning as early as late
2018. “We’ve already got more than a dozen glovebox experiments scheduled
in 2019, with many more to follow,” said Chris Butler, payload integration manager for the glovebox at

The Life Sciences Glovebox will
be transferred to a zero-gravity stowage rack in the station’s Kibo
module, where up to two crew members can conduct experiments simultaneously,
overseen in real-time by project researchers on Earth.

Check out more pictures of the
Glovebox HERE!

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Space-Grown Crystals May Lead to More Efficien…

The International Space
is a perfect environment for
creating protein crystal structures for research.


In microgravity, protein molecules
form more orderly, high-quality crystals. Studying these structures helps
scientists understand their function and contributes to development of more
effective treatments for diseases.


Experiments often need more than
one try to generate ideal crystals, though. Researchers may have to return
samples to Earth for analysis and then try again on a later mission on the
space station.

Scientists are testing new methods
of growing crystals that allow crew members to observe imperfections, make
real-time adjustments, and try growing them again right away. This dramatically
reduces the time and cost of conducting experiments aboard the space station
and opens up the orbiting lab to more users. More efficient use of time and
resources can produce research results in less time and lead to development of
better drugs sooner.

Learn more @ISS_Research!

Keeping an Eye on Hurricance Florence

What do hurricanes look like from space? It depends on how
you look! We have satellites, cameras and instruments all working together to
give us the big picture of storms like Florence.

As the International Space Station passed over Hurricane
, astronauts and cameras on board got a look down into the hurricane’s

Our Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission sees
storms all around the planet by measuring rainfall. These measurements come from
a constellation of satellites working together, including some from our partner
organizations like
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).


On Sept. 7, our GPM core observatory satellite flew over
Florence, capturing a 3D image as the storm’s clouds started to break apart
before reforming.


Other NOAA satellites, like GOES, gather high-resolution, detailed
views of hurricanes, letting us peek into the eye of the storm.


Zooming out a bit, the Suomi-NPP satellite helps us track
Hurricane Florence, and the following tropical storms, as they move closer to
landfall or dissipate over the ocean.


From farther away (a
million miles from Earth!), the EPIC instrument on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite
captured images of all three of these storms as they moved closer to North


We use our space-based and airborne instruments to provide
innovative data on hurricanes to advance scientists’ understanding of these
storms. You can follow our latest views of Hurricane Florence here and get the
latest forecast from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center here.

Hostile and Closed Environments, Hazards at Cl…

human journey to Mars, at first
glance, offers an inexhaustible amount of complexities. To bring a mission to
the Red Planet from fiction to fact, NASA’s Human Research Program has organized some of the hazards
astronauts will encounter on a continual basis into five classifications.

A spacecraft is not only a home,
it’s also a machine. NASA understands that the ecosystem inside a vehicle plays
a big role in everyday astronaut life.

Important habitability factors
include temperature, pressure, lighting, noise, and quantity of space. It’s
essential that astronauts are getting the requisite food, sleep and exercise
needed to stay healthy and happy. The space environment introduces challenges
not faced on Earth.

Technology, as often is the case
with out-of-this-world exploration, comes to the rescue! Technology plays a big
role in creating a habitable home in a harsh environment and monitoring some of
the environmental conditions.

Astronauts are also asked to
provide feedback about their living environment, including physical impressions
and sensations so that the evolution of spacecraft can continue addressing the
needs of humans in space.

Exploration to the Moon and Mars will expose astronauts to five
known hazards of spaceflight, including hostile and closed environments, like
the closed environment of the vehicle itself. To learn more, and find out what
NASA’s Human Research Program is doing to protect humans in
space, check out the “Hazards of Human Spaceflight" website.
Or, check out this week’s episode of “Houston
We Have a Podcast,” in which host Gary Jordan
further dives into the threat of hostile and closed environments with Brian
Crucian, NASA immunologist at the Johnson Space Center.

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Your Gut in Space

Finding the Right Balance for the Microbiota

Trillions of microorganisms live on and in the human body, many of them essential to its function and health. These organisms, collectively known as the microbiota, outnumber cells in the body by at least five times. 


Microorganisms in the intestinal tract, the gut microbiota, play an especially important role in human health. An investigation on the International Space Station, Rodent Research-7 (RR-7), studies how the gut microbiota changes in response to spaceflight, and how that change in turn affects the immune system, metabolic system, and circadian or daily rhythms. 


Research shows that the microbiota in the mammalian digestive tract has a major impact on an individual’s physiology and behavior. In humans, disruption of microbial communities has been linked to multiple health problems affecting intestinal, immune, mental and metabolic systems.


The investigation compares two different genetic strains of mice and two different durations of spaceflight. Twenty mice, ten of each strain, launch to the space station, and another 20 remain on the ground in identical conditions (except, of course, for the absence of gravity). Mice are a model organism that often serves as a scientific stand-in for other mammals and humans. 


Fecal material collected from the mice every two weeks will be examined for changes in the gut microbiota. Researchers plan to analyze fecal and tissue samples after 30 and 90 days of flight to compare the effects of different durations of time in space. 


With a better understanding of relationships between changes such as disruption in sleep and an imbalance of microbial populations, researchers can identify specific factors that contribute to changes in the microbiota. Further studies then can determine proactive measures and countermeasures to protect astronaut health during long-term missions. 


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Get to Know the 9 Astronauts Set to #LaunchAme…

Our Commercial Crew Program is
working with the American aerospace industry to develop and operate a
new generation of spacecraft to carry astronauts

to and from low-Earth orbit!

As we prepare to launch humans from American soil for the first time since the final space shuttle mission in 2011, get to know the astronauts who will fly with Boeing and SpaceX

as members of our commercial crew!



Bob Behnken

served as Chief of the NASA Astronaut Office from July 2012 to July
2015, where he was responsible for flight assignments, mission preparation, on-orbit
support of International Space Station crews and organization of astronaut
office support for future launch vehicles. Learn more about Bob

Eric Boe


Boe first dreamed of being an astronaut at age 5 after his parents woke him up to
watch Neil Armstrong take his first steps onto the lunar surface. Learn more
about Eric



Josh Cassada  holds a Master of Arts Degree and a Doctorate in Physics with a
specialty in high energy particle physics from the University of Rochester, in
Rochester, New York. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2013, and his first
spaceflight will be as part of the Commercial Crew Program. Learn more about

Chris Ferguson


Ferguson served as a Navy pilot before becoming a NASA astronaut, and was
commander aboard Atlantis for the final space shuttle flight, as part of the
same crew as Doug Hurley. He retired from NASA in 2011 and has been an integral
part of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner program. Learn more about Chris



Victor Glover was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2013 while working as a Legislative Fellow in the United States Senate. His first spaceflight will be as part of the Commercial Crew Program. Learn more about Victor. 



Mike Hopkins

was a top flight test engineer at the United States Air Force Test
Pilot School. He also studied political science at the Università degli Studi
di Parma in Parma, Italy, in 2005, and became a NASA astronaut in 2009. Learn
more about Mike

Doug Hurley


2009, Doug Hurley was one of the record-breaking 13 people living on the space
station at the same time. In 2011, he served as the pilot on Atlantis during the
final space shuttle mission, delivering supplies and spare parts to the
International Space Station. Now, he will be one of the first people to launch
from the U.S. since that last shuttle mission. Learn more about Doug.

Nicole Mann


Mann is a Naval Aviator and a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet. She was selected
as a NASA astronaut in 2013, and her first spaceflight will be as part of the Commercial
Crew Program. Learn more about Nicole.



Suni Williams

has completed 7 spacewalks, totaling 50 hours and 40 minutes. She’s
also known for running. In April 2007, Suni ran the first marathon in space,
the Boston Marathon, in 4 hours and 24 minutes. Learn more about Suni.

Boeing and SpaceX are scheduled to complete their crew flight tests in mid-2019 and April 2019, respectively. Once enabled, commercial transportation to and from the
International Space Station will empower more station use, more research time and more
opportunities to understand and overcome the challenges of living in space, which is critical for us to create a sustainable
presence on the Moon and carry out missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars! 

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The Science Behind the Summer Solstice

Today – Thursday, June 21 – is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. But what causes this change in seasons? And what exactly is a solstice? It’s all about Earth’s tilt!

Many people believe that Earth is closer to the Sun in the summer and that is why it is hotter. And, likewise, they think Earth is farthest from the Sun in the winter.

Although this idea makes sense, it is incorrect. There is a different reason for Earth’s seasons.


Earth’s axis is an imaginary pole going right through the center of Earth from “top” to “bottom.” Earth spins around this pole, making one complete turn each day. That is why we have day and night, and why every part of Earth’s surface gets some of each.


Earth has seasons because its axis doesn’t stand up straight. Today, the north pole is tipped toward the Sun, and the south pole is tipped away from the Sun. The northern summer solstice is an instant in time when the north pole of the Earth points more directly toward the Sun than at any other time of the year. It marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.


To mark the beginning of summer, here are four ways to enjoy the many wonders of space throughout the season: 

1. Spot the International Space Station

As the third brightest object in the sky, the International Space Station is easy to see if you know when to look up. Sign up to get alerts when the station is overhead:
Visible to the naked eye, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster!


2.  Treat your ears to space-related podcasts

From our “Gravity Assist” podcast that takes you on a journey through the solar system (including the Sun!) to our “NASA in Silicon Valley” podcast that provides an in-depth look at people who push the boundaries of innovation, we have podcast offerings that will suit everyone’s taste. For a full list of our podcasts, visit


3. Explore space by downloading NASA apps

Our apps for smartphones, tablets and digital media players showcase a huge collection of space-related content, including images, videos on-demand, NASA Television, mission information, feature stories, satellite tracking and much more. For a full list of our apps available for download, visit


4. Watch launches to space

This summer, we have multiple opportunities for you to take in the sights of spacecraft launches that will deliver supplies and equipment to astronauts living aboard the International Space Station, explore our solar system and much more. Be sure to mark your calendar for upcoming launches and landings!

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Navigating Space by the Stars


A sextant is a tool for measuring the angular altitude of a star above the horizon and has helped guide sailors across oceans for centuries. It is now being tested aboard the International Space Station as a potential emergency navigation tool for guiding future spacecraft across the cosmos. The Sextant Navigation investigation will test the use of a hand-held sextant that utilizes star sighting in microgravity. 

Read more about how we’re testing this tool in space!  

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@yesrazorbladecupcakes: Do you guys ever just …

@yesrazorbladecupcakes: Do you guys ever just goof off?

Was your question selected to be sent to the I…

We asked real life astronauts YOUR questions! Was your submission sent to space?

Astronauts Drew Feustel & Ricky Arnold recently recorded answers to your questions in a Video Answer Time session. We collected your questions and sent them to space to be answered by the astronauts on Friday, May 18. We recorded their answers and will post them tomorrow, May 30, here on our Tumblr

Was your question selected to be sent to the International Space Station? Check our Tumblr tomorrow, starting at noon EDT to find out!

About the astronauts:

Andrew J. Feustel was selected by NASA in 2000.  He has been assigned to Expedition 55/56, which launched in March 2018. The Lake Orion, Michigan native has a Ph.D. in the Geological Sciences, specializing in Seismology, and is a veteran of two spaceflights. Follow Feustel on Twitter and Instagram.

Richard R. Arnold II was selected as an astronaut by NASA in May 2004. The Maryland native worked in the marine sciences and as a teacher in his home state, as well as in countries such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. Follow Arnold on Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t forget check our Tumblr tomorrow at noon EDT to see if your question was answered by real-life astronauts in space. 

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