Thomas Jefferson University to conduct research projects on the International Space Station – NBC10 Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia is participating in the first-ever private mission to the International Space Station.
The Rakia space mission has selected three projects by Jefferson that will study the impact of space travel on the human body and mind. The mission, which will include a total of 44 projects, is expected to launch in early 2022.
The mission will be the first flight of an entirely private group of people – tourists, not NASA astronauts – to reach the International Space Station. Four space tourists will be on board.
Jefferson is working with researchers at Sheba Medical Center in Israel to create experiments that non-scientists can perform in space. Every aspect of the experiment must be certified in flight, which excludes some common procedures such as drawing blood in glass collection tubes, said researcher Adam Dicker.
Another researcher, John Hanifin, said he worked closely with NASA to create a process to teach non-scientists how to conduct experiments.
“Basically, you explain in detail what needs to be done in a document that accompanies the space traveler,” Hanifin said, adding that researchers on Earth are generally not in contact with space travelers for. that they carry out the experiments.
Dicker, professor and chair of the radiation oncology department, will collaborate on a project to study the impact of space travel on immune dysfunction, which is a depressed immune system that can lead to infections.
Dicker’s team hopes to determine the causes of immune dysfunction – low-dose radiation, microgravity, stress, or some other factor – through the proteome, a collection of proteins found in blood plasma.
“There’s been a big learning curve in what’s possible, what’s doable? How do you find the certified flying stuff that you can put out there?” Dicker said. “Creating a proposal has been intense because nobody has done it before, at least not at the proteome level.”
Another project led by Hanifin will monitor stress and sleep while testing stress interventions in space travelers. The project will examine the impact of lighting on sleep and performance on the International Space Station, where there is no natural rhythm of daylight.
The research will inform our understanding of the physiological impact of lighting systems installed in offices and hospitals on Earth, as well as the use of cellphones and computer screens late at night, said Hanifin, assistant professor. neurology.
The project will use wearable devices that resemble activity trackers to monitor astronauts’ vital signs and sleep. An audiologist on board the station will also study how noise contributes to general stress.
Urology professor Paul Chung will lead a project to determine whether the low gravity and environment of the space station can impact an astronaut’s urinary microbiome, which could lead to urinary system diseases and disorders . Urinary tract infections and urinary retention can pose serious problems during space missions and can create problems for future space tourists, Chung said.
“Knowing more about the changes in space, our bodily experiences, will help us protect future travelers,” he added.
The team of researchers and astronauts will take urine samples before, during and after the mission to study the evolution of microbes in the urine.
“The Rakia mission selected the three projects that Jefferson and our collaborators submitted,” Zvi Grunwald, executive director of the Jefferson Israel Center, said in a press release. “This mission is a unique opportunity to understand life in space and how it affects human health.”
The Ramon Foundation, an organization focused on Israeli innovation in science, aviation and space, and the Israel Space Agency’s Institute of Science and Technology are leading the mission, which is part of the Axiom Space Ax-1 project.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon will transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
“We’re just laying the groundwork,” Dicker said. “You have to start somewhere.”