Learn about the science that the SpaceX CRS-25 cargo mission will bring to the ISS

This Friday (10), a Falcon 9 rocket will be launched from the U.S. Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a Dragon capsule full of supplies, equipment and a range of science experiments. This will be SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-25) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract with NASA.

According to the agency, the science directed at the orbital laboratory of this mission includes investigations into the global composition of the Earth’s dust and its effects on climate, ways of building habitats across the Earth with resources of space, human healing in space, among others.

Billions of dust samples on Earth can be tested

Known as EMIT (Investigation of the Mineral Origin of the Earth’s Surface), one of the studies will be spent next year measuring the mineral composition of dust in the driest landscapes on Earth. At a press conference last week, Robert Green, chief investigator of the EMIT mission, explained the process he called the “planet’s mineral dust cycle”.

According to the scientist, the dust blown into the Earth’s atmosphere by the strong winds of the deserts travels thousands of kilometers. The mineral content of this atmospheric dust affects the interconnected global climate system, and understanding the composition of these minerals is key to understanding how this is done.

EMIT will measure the mineral composition of dust in dry regions of the Earth, creating a map that will improve our understanding of how Earth dust affects communities. Photo: NASA

“Depending on the minerals present, for example, dust in the atmosphere absorbs and reflects sunlight in different ways, heating or cooling areas, affecting cloud formation and atmospheric chemistry,” he said. says Green, and added that this kind of dust can also serve as a rich store. of nutrients when it resides in the ocean or on land.

Currently, he says, there are only 5,000 mineral samples from Earth’s global dust cycle in the hands of scientists. With EMIT, this number is likely to increase significantly.

Once attached to the ISS External Logistics Module 1, EMIT (which represents the largest payload of the CRS-25 mission) will be able to spectroscopically analyze more than one billion dust samples from around the planet. Scientists hope to use this data to update models of global systems for activities such as weather forecasting and climate research.

Space bricks to build exploration colonies

As planned missions to the Moon and even to Mars get closer and closer, there is a growing need to understand how to build sustainable habitats from local resources. If building materials like steel and concrete are heavy and extremely ineffective for launching into orbit, imagine going to the Moon or the Red Planet.

For this reason, students at Stanford University in California are studying how microgravity affects the formation of an alternative concrete that mixes an organic molecule with water and resources.on the spotsuch as lunar regolith or Martian dust, to create biopolymer (BPC) soil composites.

Discover the science that the SpaceX CRS 25 cargo mission.webp brings
Flight material from the ‘Biopolymer Research for In-Situ Capabilities’ experiment, an investigation into how microgravity affects the process of making concrete made of organic material and local resources such as lunar dust or martian. Photo: James Wall

Instead of using a chemical reaction, heat or pressure, the elements used in PCBs allow the mixture to dry “almost half the strength of Portland cement”, according to computer science student Jocelyn Hoang Thai, one of team leaders.

This experiment will use bovine serum albumin (BSA) to create six bricks aboard the space station, each approximately 7 millimeters long. On Earth, BSA forms protein bridges that connect dirt particles during the drying process. The researchers hope to compare bricks mixed in space with bricks made on Earth to determine the influence of microgravity on the drying process and the formation of protein bridges, and how it affects the density and strength of bricks.

SpaceX carries skin and blood vessel samples to the ISS

The CRS-25 mission will send a medical experiment to the ISS led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the University of Florence, Italy. A set of tissue chips, containers designed to store human cells to be analyzed in microgravity, contains samples of ethically derived human skin and blood vessels that have been injured and then sutured. to study the point mechanical forces in the microgravity healing process.

Monica Monici, from the University of Florence, is the lead researcher of the study entitled sew in space, featured the advantages of studying seam galaxy. “Previous experiments in cell cultures and animal models have shown that wound closure is delayed under microgravity conditions,” the scientist explains. “Like the time of evacuation from space to Earth [em futuras missões] can be very long, the need to implement trauma care and surgery increases. Wound healing should be considered a major learning challenge because it is important to the safety of the crew.

Other experiments to be carried out on the ISS by the CRS-25 mission are related to the aging of the immune system, how microgravity affects communities of soil microorganisms and winning research from the 9th edition of the Genes program. in Space, a partnership between NASA and educational institutions in the United States to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

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