A European in space – Thomas Pesquet in May

Science & Exploration


With ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet in space for his first full month, let’s have a look at what he has been doing on the International Space Station in May.

Thomas greedy in VR space for science

Thomas’s first large-scale European experiment was a well-recognized one: he arrange the Grasp and Grip gear throughout his Proxima mission in 2017 and received the {hardware} prepared for topics to check how they choose distances when reaching for objects. Four years on – and lots of check topics later – he ran the experiment himself by sporting a digital actuality headset and greedy objects whereas movement trackers recorded his arm motion and pace.

The subsequent day Thomas did a session on Myotones along with NASA astronaut Megan MacArthur. This experiment is taking a look at muscle tone in space and the way it modifications throughout a mission. A machine touches their muscle tissue and information the way it reacts. The astronauts additionally took blood attracts and ultrasound measurements for the experiment the analysis might assist us perceive why muscle tissue age the best way they do.

Thomas storing samples in MELFI
Thomas took common samples of his physique and saved them in the European –80°C freezers for later evaluation. This much less glamorous a part of being an astronaut is required to chart well being in basic but in addition for analysis; the batch contains stool samples, blood samples, saliva and urine. The blood samples usually go in a centrifuge earlier than storage to separate the cells, and the centrifuge itself requires maintenance.

Thomas repairing Space Station train bike
Thomas repaired the Station’s train bike, which had an issue with its ergometer, and helped Megan with NASA’s SUBSA experiment that’s casting steel alloys in space to watch the crystals that kind, with hopes of growing higher casting strategies on Earth. A comparable ESA experiment observing crystal formation ran in May with totally different alloys in the Columbus laboratory.Thomas spent a while servicing the bathroom and upkeep on pumps in the primary week of May, and labored on the tutorial Astro Pi initiative instructing schoolchildren to code with computer systems.

Thomas on Space Station train bike
The second week of May began with Cygnus cargo operations and clearing as much as entry the nanoracks airlock, in addition to an academic experiment for NASA and security drills for the entire Space Station crew. Thomas began getting ready for the arrival of the 22nd Dragon cargo spacecraft and did the common six-month and yearly upkeep of the Station’s treadmill in addition to filling in a survey on the acoustics in the Station.Thomas took half in the CNES Dreams experiment that’s taking a look at astronauts’ sleep. It makes use of a novel headband to review how sleep is influenced by residing in weightlessness and isolation. Using small ECG sensors, the machine collected neuroscientific knowledge whereas Thomas slept. These knowledge shall be analysed by researchers to assist put together for lengthy missions to the Moon and Mars.In the third week of May, Thomas began getting ready gear for the spacewalks which can be deliberate in June to improve the Space Station’s photo voltaic panels. This contains checking batteries and charging them and getting ready the EMU fits they’ll put on. This is fast to summarise however doing the work takes time and have to be carried out meticulously, as no one desires an empty battery when floating by way of the vacuum of space. The photo voltaic panels themselves shall be launched on the SpaceX Dragon this week. He additionally did upkeep on the air-con in the crew quarters.

Thomas and Megan in BEAM module
On Wednesday, Thomas did a session on the ESA/CNES experiment Time that’s charting response instances and notion of time in space, to check in the event that they lower throughout spaceflight. On Friday, the crew entered the BEAM module that’s normally closed off and used for long-term storage. Thomas was tasked with storage duties and organised the inflatable module’s objects. More bathroom upkeep in the final week of May for Thomas after which on to some analysis, rising protein crystals for NASA. By rising these proteins in space, researchers can create the ‘perfect’ form with out gravity influencing the top consequence. The construction of those proteins is vital as a result of it defines how protein-based drugs is absorbed by our our bodies, and tweaking the construction might enable for optimum administration of this new technology of medication.

Time experiment infographics
The week completed with extra work on steel casting, a full day of Myotones, extra spacewalk preparations, medical drills and, on Wednesday, Thomas arrange the brand new French Pilote experiment and did the primary session that may consider a brand new means of offering tactile and visible suggestions to astronauts when working robots. A digital actuality headset and a haptic joystick might recreate the sensation of strain and contact when tele-operating a robotic arm. The outcomes from Pilote will enhance the workspace on the Space Station and future spacecraft for lunar and martian missions, the place astronauts in orbit might function rovers on the floor.This month-to-month overview centered solely on Thomas’s actions and doesn’t point out the day by day planning conferences and the 2 hours of day by day train, cleansing duties and extra, alongside sharing space with six different astronauts on the Space Station. Of course, many experiments run mechanically in the background, which means the science actually by no means stops in space.

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