Space Medical Research
17 June 2014

Performing medical research aboard the International Space Station
Credit: NASA

In the end of a fruitful workweek, the crew of Expedition 40 of the International Space Station (ISS) conducted medical and physics research, maintained station systems and readied for the upcoming spacewalk.

Following the crew’s normal reveille, Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst participated in various experiments aimed at understanding how long-duration spaceflight affects the human body and developing countermeasures to mitigate the health risks. This research is vitally important as NASA plans to send astronauts on longer missions beyond low Earth orbit.

Swanson started the day with the Sprint investigation, which measures the efficiency of high-intensity, low-volume exercise training in minimizing the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs in weightlessness. ISS crew members currently work out around 2 ½-hours daily, and the researchers behind Sprint aim to reduce that total exercise duration while maintaining crew fitness.

Wiseman acted as the subject for a session of the Cardio Ox study, which is investigating the risks of cardiovascular disease in long-duration spaceflight. Guided by the ground team, Gerst performed an ultrasound scan on Wiseman, and measured his blood pressure.

Wiseman also logged his meals and followed a prescribed diet for the Pro K study as nutritionists monitor how dietary changes may affect spaceflight-related bone loss.

For the Circadian Rhythms investigation, Gerst donned sensors and an armband monitor to track his body’s core temperature over a 36-hour period. Since the station orbits the Earth 16 times a day, an astronaut’s body clock can get disrupted from experiencing a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. Results from this investigation will provide insights into the adaptations of the human autonomic nervous system in space and will help optimize crew schedules and workplace illumination.


Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist
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