ESA Experiments

The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected the next group of experiments to be performed on the International Space Station.

After a scientific peer-review and assessments of practical and financial issues, ESA selected 31 projects out of more than 200 proposed experiments.

Many of the experiments will be the continuation of research that demands more investigation. This includes the monitoring of lung health. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti had previously performed a session in the airlock of the Space Station with NASA astronaut Terry Virts. The next session will involve helium to help understand why astronauts breathe out more nitric oxide in space than on Earth.

The brain will be studied in another experiment to determine if the hippocampus shrinks in space. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that processes information for navigation and storing memories. The procedure will include brain scans before and after flight.

There will also be an experiment to determine how astronauts perceive time. They will use hardware such as a head-mounted display and headphones and will constantly be asked to estimate the time. Any changes in their estimates will be charted during their time in weightlessness.

A biology experiment will study the use of waste to produce food and oxygen in a self-sustained ecosystem.

The affects of the vacuum of space on living organisms will be studied when microorganisms and chemicals are placed on miniature satellites that are attached to the exterior of the Space Station. The experiments will test theories of how life could have developed, spread through the galaxy, and adapted to the harsh vacuum of space.

The International Space Station will also be used as a platform to study the human immune system. Many experiments will examine how cells cope on a molecular level with the stress of weightlessness and space radiation.


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