3 min read

International Space Station welcomes biological and physical science experiments

NASA is sending several biological and physical sciences experiments and equipment aboard SpaceX’s 30th commercial resupply services mission. Studying biological and physical phenomena under extreme conditions allows researchers to advance the fundamental scientific knowledge required to go farther and stay longer in space, while also benefitting life on Earth. Not only can these experiments provide pioneering scientific discovery – they enable sustainable deep space exploration and support transformative engineering.

The commercial resupply launch took place Thursday, March 21, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Understanding Antibiotic Resistance in Space

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a significant threat to human health, both on Earth and in space. Common, harmless bacteria like Enterococcus faecalis (EF) and Enterococcus faecium, can be found on the International Space Station just as they are on Earth -- and yet, they exhibit resistance to antibiotics and are hardier than their counterparts down on the ground. This raises concerns about potential more harmful bacteria causing infections for astronauts, especially during long-duration missions, as standard antibiotic treatments might prove ineffective.

To address this issue, Genomic Enumeration of Antibiotic Resistance in Space will survey the space station for antibiotic-resistant microbes. By analyzing the genetic makeup of these bacteria, scientists hope to understand how they adapt to the unique environment of space. This knowledge will be instrumental in developing protective measures for astronauts’ health on future long-duration missions. Additionally, it could contribute to a broader understanding of antibiotic resistance, benefiting healthcare practices on Earth.

Purple medical illustration of Enterococci sp. bacteria.
This is a medical illustration of vancomycin-resistant, Enterococci sp. bacteria, presented in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication entitled, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019 (AR Threats Report).
CDC/Jennifer Oosthuizen

A temporary replacement module for the Cold Atom Lab will be aboard SpaceX-30. The module will enable NASA to continue pioneering quantum experiments aboard the International Space Station while researchers troubleshoot upgraded equipment delivered to station in August 2023 that they were unable to bring online.

The Cold Atom Laboratory quad locker sitting in a fixture that will allow the hardware to be packaged for shipment to the launch facility.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Levitation of High Temperature Metals

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) partner-lead investigation

The objective of the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace-1 reflight is to investigate the effects of the interfacial phenomena between molten steel and slag (oxide) melts during processing from the viewpoint of the thermophysical properties. During steel making processes, such as continuous casting, the impurity in the cast steel is influenced by the interplay between the molten steel and molten slags.  Understanding the interfacial phenomena could help produce higher purity steels. Success could increase the space station's commercial utilization and improve oxide melt manufacturing and application on Earth.

Portrait of a Caucasian man with glasses. He is wearing a black suit, white dress shirt and tie with blue pattern.
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert Hyers, Professor and Head, Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Flow Boiling Condensation Module Power Filter Module (support hardware)

During the initial checkouts following launch of the Condensation Module Power Filter  hardware on NG-19 in August 2023, an anomaly was observed in the test section thermocouple readings. The team investigated the issue and recommended replacement of the power filter module to fix the anomalous thermocouple readings. The PFM filters out undesirable electromagnetic emissions noise for the payload electronics.

Top view of the FBCE-CM-HT hardware. This investigation gathers data to characterize the function of condensation surfaces and to validate flow velocity models. Results could identify optimal flow rates at various gravitational levels to safely dissipate heat, supporting design of systems for use in space and on Earth. Image courtesy of NASA Glenn Research Center.
NASA Glenn Research Center

About NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences

NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division pioneers’ scientific discovery and enables exploration by using space environments to conduct investigations not possible on Earth. Studying biological and physical phenomena under extreme conditions allows researchers to advance the fundamental scientific knowledge required to go farther and stay longer in space, while also benefitting life on Earth.



Last Updated
Mar 22, 2024
NASA Science Editorial Team