For astronauts, the ability to do research in space using a microgravity environment is an unparalleled experience. On board the International Space Station or spacecraft in near-Earth orbit, astronauts can perform many scientific research activities that they would not be able to do on Earth. Here are some of these interesting experiments, come and see what they are.
Fun Slime crystal slime (Slime, also known as stretching slime)
In 2020, the International Space Station received 2 liters of Slime Crystal Slime. Crystal slime is a popular toy for children, somewhere between a solid and a liquid, made of a non-toxic, sticky and slippery gel.
Ground researchers asked astronauts who received the crystal slime to do experiments, such as filling syringes with crystal slime and spraying it on other astronauts; filling balloons with crystal slime and poking them; or making small balls of crystal slime and letting it float in the air.
Researchers hope that through these “play” process, to observe non-water fluids in weightlessness what behavior, in order to deal with the future of the space station carbon dioxide, waste water, plant watering and other issues to provide ideas, and even for the space life support system research to do pavement. And of course, throughout the experiment, the astronauts had a lot of fun.
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Schematic of the Slime Crystal Slime. (shutterstock)
Microscopic Tissue-Human Cell Tissue Chips
These chips are used to simulate various organs of the human body, such as the heart, lungs or kidneys, in order to understand the effects of the microgravity environment on human health.
Many of the changes that occur in the human body in microgravity are similar to those that occur in the aging human body on Earth, such as the loss of bone and muscle.
By observing and doing various experiments on the cellular tissue chip, it is possible to understand these effects and help develop new drugs.
The chip contains human tissue cells and simulates the internal circulation of the human body with microscopic tubes integrated in the chip. Its standardized design facilitates accurate analysis and experiments in the confined environment of space.
Jellyfish get dizzy too
To test the effects of weightlessness on jellyfish development, NASA sent 2,478 jellyfish named “polyps” into space on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1991.
The jellyfish adapted well to life in space, and by the end of the test, they had multiplied to 60,000! But when they were sent back to Earth, they ran into a bit of a problem. These jellyfish exhibited irregular bouncing and movement when swimming in a gravity-dependent environment, as if they had been drinking alcoholic beverages and were unable to control their balance.
The picture shows a schematic of jellyfish. (shutterstock)
Salmonella becomes more virulent
In 2007, researchers at Arizona State University sent samples of Salmonella (one of the most common bacteria causing food poisoning) into space to see how the bacteria reacted in microgravity. The results obtained were disturbing; the bacteria became more virulent in space, which is not good news for humans who want to migrate to space.
The hardy water bear bug (Retardigrades, Tardigrades)
The water bear worm is very small, between about 50 microns and 1.4 millimeters, and is considered to be the most vigorous creature on Earth. Just look at these numbers to see how hardy it is. In cryptobiotic conditions, the water bear worm can survive for minutes to days at near absolute zero (-272°C), high temperatures (151°C), high radiation, x-ray exposure up to 1,000 times lethal to humans, vacuum or 6,000 atmospheres.
(Cryptogenesis is a state of life in which the water in the body of a retarded animal is drastically reduced to withstand an adverse environment, and the body appears to be atrophied and stops metabolizing. When the surrounding environment improves, the cryptobiotic animal can recover.)
In 2007, after 10 days of exposure to space in low Earth orbit, some of the water bears returned to Earth alive: those located in places shielded from solar radiation by spacecraft mostly survived; while those directly exposed to solar radiation had a low recovery rate, and even if they survived, their fertility was impaired .
To add to this, some bacteria and microorganisms can also survive in space, some of them are attached to the shell of spacecraft and taken up to space, and some are sent up to space by scientists.
Water bears are only 50 microns to 1.4 millimeters in size. Photo of a water borne worm under a microscope (shutterstock)
Scientists expect that bees can help humans live in space, such as pollinating plants or providing honey for astronauts.
Poland has a research station called Lunares that simulates a lunar or Martian base environment, where some experiments or astronaut training are preformed.
At one point, scientists sent 90,000 bees into the research station. Unfortunately, the bees that entered the station overwintered and began to die in large numbers, with 1,000-1,200 bees dying every four days, and to add insult to injury, the hives stopped feeding their offspring. During the simulation period, the bees completely ignored the spirulina powder that the scientists put in place of pollen, and at most they ventured to drink some water or huddle under a light bulb for warmth.
The dead bees were not replenished, making the hive temperature even colder, which led to more bee deaths and a vicious cycle of events.
The test seems to have led scientists to conclude that it may be wrong to let bees perform pollination tasks in an alien environment, and they have now set their sights on replacing them with small drones.
Spiders make webs in the air
Scientists sent two golden orb spiders (Nephila clavipes) into space to see how the webs they made in microgravity differed from those on Earth, and it turned out to be a little different, with the spiders making rounder webs in space.
In the interim, educational institutions have integrated spider experiments in space with student education, allowing students to observe and compare them simultaneously in the classroom.
The year 2014, when the spiders weave their webs in the sky, coincided with the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and there was more concern about whether the creatures would mutate after the radiation. Space station astronauts solemnly told the audience that although spiders were exposed to microgravity and space radiation, they did not become “alien”.
Medaka, a transparent vertebrate
Osteoporosis is a common disease among astronauts who live in space for long periods of time. Scientists hope that through the study of medaka fish, to understand the principles of osteoporosis in microgravity environment, as well as possible means of treatment.
Scientists chose medaka fish because, first of all, they are vertebrates, which means they have bones and muscles. Secondly, they are transparent, so scientists can look inside their bodies through their exteriors.
Human home in space – the International Space Station
The International Space Station has been in service for 21 years this year, since November 2, 2000. During this time, 244 astronauts from 19 countries have visited the space station. As of 2020, astronauts have conducted approximately 3,000 scientific experiments on the station.
The ISS is very expensive to develop, manufacture and maintain, with a total cost estimated at $150 billion and annual operating costs of $3.5 billion.
Although the ISS is designed for a 15-year lifespan, NASA hopes the station can operate until 2028 and beyond.
Astronauts work outside the space station. (shutterstock)