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GK SPECIAL TOPIC : INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
Friday, 18 July 2014 10:03




INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

 

The International Space Station (ISS) is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. Station construction began in November 1998 with the launch of Russia’s Zarya module.

The ISS is a joint project between the five participating space agencies, the American NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the Russian RKA (Russian Federal Space Agency), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA, the European ESA (European Space Agency), and the Canadian CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

The 360-tonne International Space Station has more than 820 cubic metres of pressurized space providing enough room for its crew of six persons and a vast array of scientific experiments.

The ISS combines three space station projects, the Soviet/Russian Mir-2, the American Freedom Project which includes the Japanese Kibo Laboratory, and the European Columbus Space Station.

The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements which divide the station into two areas and allow the Russian Federation to retain full ownership of Russian Orbital Segment (ROS)/(RS), with the US Orbital Segment (USOS) allocated between the other international partners.

The ISS serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which the crew conducts experiments in many fields including biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology.

Experiments conducted on International Space Station

The researches on the ISS improves knowledge about the effects of long-term space exposure on the human body, including muscle atrophy, bone loss, and fluid shift. This data will be used to determine whether lengthy human spaceflight and space colonization are feasible or not. As of 2006, data on bone loss and muscular atrophy suggest that there would be a significant risk of fractures and movement problems if astronauts landed on a planet after a lengthy interplanetary cruise, such as the six-month interval required to travel to Mars.

Medical studies were also conducted aboard the ISS on behalf of the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). Prominent among these was the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity study in which astronauts perform ultrasound scans under the guidance of remote experts. The study considers the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in space. Usually, there is no physician onboard the ISS and diagnosis of medical conditions is a challenge. It is anticipated that remotely guided ultrasound scans will have application on Earth in emergency and rural care situations where access to a trained physician is difficult.

Researchers are investigating the effect of the station's near-weightless environment on the evolution, development, growth and internal processes of plants and animals. NASA also wants to investigate microgravity's effects on the growth of three-dimensional, human-like tissues, and the unusual protein crystals that can be formed in space.

The investigation of the physics of fluids in microgravity will allow researchers to model the behaviour of fluids better. In addition, an examination of reactions that are slowed by low gravity and temperatures will give scientists a deeper understanding of superconductivity.

Other areas of interest include the effect of the low gravity environment on combustion, through the study of the efficiency of burning and control of emissions and pollutants. These findings may improve current knowledge about energy production, and lead to economic and environmental benefits.

Future plans are for the researchers aboard the ISS to examine aerosols, ozone, water vapour, and oxides in Earth's atmosphere, as well as cosmic rays, cosmic dust, antimatter, and dark matter in the universe.

Current crew of the orbital outpost is Expedition 28: Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev, Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa, Ron Garan and Sergei Volkov.