Space Station Boosting Biological Research in Orbit

By  //  August 14, 2013

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microgravity opens world of possibilities

ABOVE VIDEO STREAM: Live Space Station Video Stream includes internal views from cameras in the International Space Station’s Destiny Laboratory and Harmony module when the resident astronauts are on duty.

NASA.gov – Studying the science of biology in microgravity opens a world of possibilities, research ranges from plant growth to cell growth and from bacterial virulence to strength in human bones.

The 3-D images above are of bone from untreated and treated mice from a NASA study that used simulated microgravity to look at a novel therapy to prevent bone loss during spaceflight. (NASA image)

The 3-D images above are of bone from untreated and treated mice from a NASA study that used simulated microgravity to look at a novel therapy to prevent bone loss during spaceflight. (NASA image)

The scope of biology research provides scientists from many disciplines with opportunities to express and explore their area of interest, translating findings into treatments and applications for use on Earth and in space exploration.

Supporting this research in biological science and technology is an important part of NASA’s overall mission.

To that end, NASA has selected 31 investigations proposed in response to the most recent NASA Research Announcement titled “Research Opportunities in Space Biology.”

THESE STUDIES GROW THE COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HOW BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS ADAPT

These NASA-sponsored studies will help grow the collective knowledge about how biological systems adapt to space. Findings from such research add to the foundation on which other scientists and engineers can build.

The study of Arabidopsis thaliana, pictured here, will be a continuation of previous research to understand how the effects of hypobaric environments on the International Space Station determine plant growth in microgravity for long-duration space missions. (NASA image)

The study of Arabidopsis thaliana, pictured here, will be a continuation of previous research to understand how the effects of hypobaric environments on the International Space Station determine plant growth in microgravity for long-duration space missions. (NASA image)

This can lead to approaches and countermeasures to problems confronting human exploration of space, as well as translate to new biological tools or applications on Earth.

Using 21st century biological tools, space biology scientists will examine and discover underlying mechanisms of adaptation to changes resulting from the microgravity environment, including exposure to stress and radiation.

The goal is to determine genetic, cellular and organismal mechanisms that regulate and sustain growth, metabolism, reproduction and development in this altered setting.

By understanding these mechanisms, these investigations could yield valuable knowledge leading to advances in areas such as agricultural production and therapeutics for treatment and prevention of diseases on Earth.

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