Station Crews to Perform Science Experiments
Station instructor Jessica Meir, right, demonstrates a
piece of experiment hardware for
Expedition 7 NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu. |
to do his or her assigned science experiments is an important part
of training for every Space Station crewmember. Teams of experts
and hundreds of hours are required to ensure that every crewmember
has the knowledge and skills needed to perform their assigned experiments
-- the researchers on Earth are depending on them.
crews have grown human cells to study how cancers grow and worked
with antibiotics to find a way to produce them faster on Earth.
They've grown plants to develop drought-resistant crops and crystals
to improve gasoline production. They've also studied the human body
in microgravity, gathering information on everything from how the
lungs perform to the formation of kidney stones and the performance
of liver cells. Other experiments take advantage of the very low
gravity on the Space Station to study physical processes. By eliminating
gravity, researchers can better understand some of the smaller forces
that occur in such processes as semiconductor production.
experiments only require crewmembers to start and stop them (e.g.,
crystal growth), while other experiments require the crewmembers
to be operators. Human Life Sciences experiments are unique in that
crewmembers often serve as both test subjects and operators. These
types of experiments help researchers better understand how the
human body adapts to spending long periods of time in microgravity
-- information that can help people on Earth as well.
must first determine how many crewmembers will be trained on each
experiment, how many hours of training are required, who will perform
the training, what procedures and software will be needed, and what
equipment and facilities can be used based on the available budget.
Individual training plans for every experiment are combined into
a single plan that includes all the experiments in a scientific
discipline, such as Human Life Sciences. The Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala., is responsible for managing each crewmember's
training plan for all U.S. experiments. In addition to Human
Life Sciences, the research areas include Physical
Space Biology, Space
Product Development and Earth
time, whether before, during or after flight, is a very limited
resource, every detail of an experiment training session must be
planned, practiced and coordinated. Frequently, the researcher or
principal investigator instructs crewmembers in how to operate their
experiment. Computer Based Training lessons, or CBTs, are also developed
by instructional design experts to provide ground-based and on-orbit
crew training. CBTs can be used by the crew for proficiency training,
to maintain their skills and knowledge of a specific experiment,
or for initial training.
18-month training period, Station crewmembers will become proficient
in each of their assigned experiments -- ready to provide ground-based
researchers with the data they need to improve life here on Earth.