Scientists have seen the completion of a record-breaking 31-day experiment on the International Space Station (ISS), called PromISS-3. It is the longest duration experiment ever conducted inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox – built by engineers and scientists at the European Space Agency in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The glovebox – a sealed container with built-in gloves – provides an enclosed workspace for investigations conducted in the microgravity, environment created as the Station orbits Earth.
Sponsored by the European Space Agency, PromISS-3 was an experiment to study the growth of protein crystals. Among the proteins grown were iron storage proteins found in all living things, proteins which help protect humans from bacterial infection and proteins related to anemia and neuromuscular disease in humans.
The heart of the experiment was the use of a holographic microscope, which sent back images of the crystals while they were growing. The holographic microscope provided a capability to look at the physics involved in the growth of these types of crystals in order to understand more fully why some crystals grow better in space and some do not.
NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Foale unpacked his Lower Extremity Monitoring Suit (LEMS) to prepare for another session of the Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight (FOOT) experiment.
Wearing black Lycra “biking tights” with 20 electrodes as well as shoes fitted with insoles that measure impact forces on the bottom of the foot, while Foale goes through a typical 12-hour on-orbit day, the hardware will measure reaction forces in his legs and feet to determine how much exercise these muscles get while in orbit. This study will provide better understanding of the bone and muscle loss in the lower extremities experienced by astronauts in microgravity.