Below, explore peer-reviewed journal articles related to ISS National Lab investigations. For a more extensive list of spaceflight-related publications (not limited to ISS National Lab sponsorship), see the International Space Station Research Results Citations on the NASA website.
Molecular transport through nanofluidic structures exhibits properties that are unique at the nanoscale. The high surface-to-volume ratio of nanometer-sized confined spaces renders particle interactions with the surface of central importance. The electrical double layer (EDL) at the solid–liquid interface of charged surfaces generates an enrichment of counterions and the exclusion of co-ions that lead to a change in their diffusivity. In addition, the diffusive transport is altered by steric and hydrodynamic interactions between fluid molecules and the boundaries. An extensive body of literature investigates molecular transport at the nanoscale. However, most studies account for ionic species as point charges, severely limiting the applicability of the results to “large” nanofluidic systems. Moreover, and even more importantly, the change of pH in the nanoconfined region inside nanochannels has been completely overlooked. Corroborated by experimental data, here we present an all-encompassing analysis of molecular diffusion from the micro- to the ultra-nanoscale. While accounting for finite-size ions, we compute self-consistently the pH inside the channels. Surprisingly, we found that the concentration of ions H+can change by more than 2 orders of magnitude compared to the bulk, hugely affecting molecular transport. Further, we found that counterions exhibit both enrichment and exclusion, depending on the size of nanochannels. Achieving a greater understanding of the effective transport properties of fluids at the nanoscale will fill the gap in knowledge that still limits development of innovative systems for medicine and industrial applications alike.
A precision measurement by the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station of the positron fraction in primary cosmic rays in the energy range from 0.5 to 350 GeV based on 6.8 × 10 6 positron and electron events is presented. The very accurate data show that the positron fraction is steadily increasing from 10 to ? 250 GeV, but, from 20 to 250 GeV, the slope decreases by an order of magnitude. The positron fraction spectrum shows no fine structure, and the positron to electron ratio shows no observable anisotropy. Together, these features show the existence of new physical phenomena.
Segmental bone defects (SBDs) secondary to trauma invariably result in a prolonged recovery with an extended period of limited weight bearing on the affected limb. Soldiers sustaining blast injuries and civilians sustaining high energy trauma typify such a clinical scenario. These patients frequently sustain composite injuries with SBDs in concert with extensive soft tissue damage. For soft tissue injury resolution and skeletal reconstruction a patient may experience limited weight bearing for upwards of 6 months.
Many small animal investigations have evaluated interventions for SBDs. While providing foundational information regarding the treatment of bone defects, these models do not simulate limited weight bearing conditions after injury. For example, mice ambulate immediately following anesthetic recovery, and in most cases are normally ambulating within 1–3 days post-surgery. Thus, investigations that combine disuse with bone healing may better test novel bone healing strategies. To remove weight bearing, we have designed a SBD rodent healing study in microgravity (µG) on the International Space Station (ISS) for the Rodent Research-4 (RR-4) Mission, which launched February 19, 2017 on SpaceX CRS-10 (Commercial Resupply Services). In preparation for this mission, we conducted an end-to-end mission simulation consisting of surgical infliction of SBD followed by launch simulation and hindlimb unloading (HLU) studies. In brief, a 2 mm defect was created in the femur of 10 week-old C57BL6/J male mice (n = 9–10/group). Three days after surgery, 6 groups of mice were treated as follows: 1) Vivarium Control (maintained continuously in standard cages); 2) Launch Negative Control (placed in the same spaceflight-like hardware as the Launch Positive Control group but were not subjected to launch simulation conditions); 3) Launch Positive Control (placed in spaceflight-like hardware and also subjected to vibration followed by centrifugation); 4) Launch Positive Experimental (identical to Launch Positive Control group, but placed in qualified spaceflight hardware); 5) Hindlimb Unloaded (HLU, were subjected to HLU immediately after launch simulation tests to simulate unloading in spaceflight); and 6) HLU Control (single housed in identical HLU cages but not suspended). Mice were euthanized 28 days after launch simulation and bone healing was examined via micro-Computed Tomography (µCT). These studies demonstrated that the mice post-surgery can tolerate launch conditions. Additionally, forces and vibrations associated with launch did not impact bone healing (p = .3). However, HLU resulted in a 52.5% reduction in total callus volume compared to HLU Controls (p = .0003). Taken together, these findings suggest that mice having a femoral SBD surgery tolerated the vibration and hypergravity associated with launch, and that launch simulation itself did not impact bone healing, but that the prolonged lack of weight bearing associated with HLU did impair bone healing. Based on these findings, we proceeded with testing the efficacy of FDA approved and novel SBD therapies using the unique spaceflight environment as a novel unloading model on SpaceX CRS-10.
The distance and duration of human spaceflight missions is set to markedly increase over the coming decade as we prepare to send astronauts to Mars. However, the health impact of long-term exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity is not fully understood. In order to identify the molecular mechanisms underpinning the effects of space travel on human health, we must develop the capacity to monitor changes in gene expression and DNA integrity in space. Here, we report successful implementation of three molecular biology procedures on board the International Space Station (ISS) using a miniaturized thermal cycler system and C. elegans as a model organism: first, DNA extraction?the initial step for any type of DNA analysis; second, reverse transcription of RNA to generate complementary DNA (cDNA); and third, the subsequent semi-quantitative PCR amplification of cDNA to analyze gene expression changes in space. These molecular procedures represent a significant expansion of the budding molecular biology capabilities of the ISS and will permit more complex analyses of space-induced genetic changes during spaceflight missions aboard the ISS and beyond.
Endothelial cells (ECs) are critical for several aspects of cardiovascular disease therapy, including vascular regeneration, personalized drug development, and tissue engineering. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) afford us with an unprecedented opportunity to produce virtually unlimited quantities of human ECs. In this review, we highlight key developments and outstanding challenges in our ability to derive ECs de novo from hPSCs. Furthermore, we consider strategies for recapitulating the vessel- and tissue-specific functional heterogeneity of ECs in vitro. Finally, we discuss ongoing attempts to utilize hPSC-derived ECs and their progenitors for various therapeutic applications. Continued progress in generating hPSC-derived ECs will profoundly enhance our ability to discover novel drug targets, revascularize ischemic tissues, and engineer clinically relevant tissue constructs. Visual Overview- An online visual overview is available for this article.
Aim: The goal of the study was to evaluate changes in lung status due to spaceflight stressors that include radiation above levels found on Earth. Materials and Methods: Within hours after return from a 13-day mission in space onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, C57BL/6 mice (FLT group) were euthanized; mice housed on the ground in similar animal enclosure modules served as controls (AEM group). Lung tissue was collected to evaluate the expression of genes related to extracellular matrix (ECM)/adhesion and stem cell signaling. Pathway analysis was also performed. In addition, immunohistochemistry for stem cell antigen-1 (SCA-1), the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay for apoptosis, and staining for histological characteristics were performed. Results: There were 18/168 genes significantly modulated in lungs from the FLT group (p<0.05 vs. AEM); 17 of these were up-regulated and one was down-regulated. The greatest effect, namely a 5.14-fold increase, was observed on Spock1 (also known as Spark/osteonectin), encoding a multi-functional protein that has anti-adhesive effects, inhibits cell proliferation and regulates activity of certain growth factors. Additional genes with increased expression were cadherin 3 (Cdh3), collagen, type V, alpha 1 (Col5a1), integrin alpha 5 (Itga5), laminin, gamma 1 (Lamc1), matrix metallopeptidase 14 (Mmp14), neural cell adhesion molecule 1 (Ncam1), transforming growth factor, beta induced (Tgfbi), thrombospondin 1 (Thbs1), Thbs2, versican (Vcan), fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (Fgfr1), frizzled homolog 6 (Fzd6), nicastrin (Ncstn), nuclear factor of activated T-cells, cytoplasmic, calcineurin-dependent 4 (Nfatc4), notch gene homolog 4 (Notch4) and vang-like 2 (Vangl2). The down-regulated gene was Mmp13. Staining for SCA-1 protein showed strong signal intensity in bronchiolar epithelial cells of FLT mice (p<0.05 vs. AEM). TUNEL positivity was also significantly higher in the FLT mice (p<0.05 vs. AEM), but no consistent histological differences were noted. Conclusion: The results demonstrate that spaceflight-related stress had a significant impact on lung integrity, indicative of tissue injury and remodeling.
Circadian rhythmicity is a fundamental process that synchronizes behavioral cues with metabolic homeostasis. Disruption of daily cycles due to jet lag or shift work results in severe physiological consequences including advanced aging, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer. Our understanding of the molecular clock, which is regulated by intricate positive feedforward and negative feedback loops, has expanded to include an important metabolic transcriptional coregulator, Steroid Receptor Coactivator-2 (SRC-2), that regulates both the central clock of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and peripheral clocks including the liver. We hypothesized that an environmental uncoupling of the light-dark phases, termed chronic circadian disruption (CCD), would lead to pathology similar to the genetic circadian disruption observed with loss of SRC-2 We found that CCD and ablation of SRC-2 in mice led to a common comorbidity of metabolic syndrome also found in humans with circadian disruption, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The combination of SRC-2(-/-) and CCD results in a more robust phenotype that correlates with human non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) gene signatures. Either CCD or SRC-2 ablation produces an advanced aging phenotype leading to increased mortality consistent with other circadian mutant mouse models. Collectively, our studies demonstrate that SRC-2 provides an essential link between the behavioral activities influenced by light cues and the metabolic homeostasis maintained by the liver.
Experimentation on the International Space Station has reached the stage where repeated and nuanced transcriptome studies are beginning to illuminate the structural and metabolic differences between plants grown in space compared to plants on the Earth. Genes that are important in establishing the spaceflight responses are being identified, their roles in spaceflight physiological adaptation are increasingly understood, and the fact that different genotypes adapt differently is recognized. However, the basic question of whether these spaceflight responses are actually required for survival has yet to be posed, and the fundamental notion that spaceflight responses may be non-adaptive has yet to be explored. Therefore the experiments presented here were designed to ask if portions of the plant spaceflight response can be genetically removed without causing loss of spaceflight survival and without causing increased stress responses. The CARA experiment compared the spaceflight transcriptome responses in the root tips of two Arabidopsis ecotypes, Col-0 and WS, as well as that of a PhyD mutant of Col-0. When grown with the ambient light of the ISS, phyD plants displayed a significantly reduced spaceflight transcriptome response compared to Col-0, suggesting that altering the activity of a single gene can actually improve spaceflight adaptation by reducing the transcriptome cost of physiological adaptation. The WS genotype showed an even simpler spaceflight transcriptome response in the ambient light of the ISS, more broadly indicating that the plant genotype can be manipulated to reduce the cost of spaceflight adaptation, as measured by transcriptional response. These differential genotypic responses suggest that genetic manipulation could further reduce, or perhaps eliminate the metabolic cost of spaceflight adaptation. When plants were germinated and then left in the dark on the ISS, the WS genotype actually mounted a larger transcriptome response than Col-0, suggesting that the in-space light environment affects physiological adaptation, which implies that manipulating the local habitat can also substantially impact the metabolic cost of spaceflight adaptation.
While significant attention has been paid to the potential risk of pathogenic microbes aboard crewed spacecraft, the non-pathogenic microbes in these habitats have received less consideration. Preliminary work has demonstrated that the interior of the International Space Station (ISS) has a microbial community resembling those of built environments on Earth. Here we report the results of sending 48 bacterial strains, collected from built environments on Earth, for a growth experiment on the ISS. This project was a component of Project MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers on ISS).
Trabecular bone is frequently studied in osteoporosis research because changes in trabecular bone are the most common cause of osteoporotic fractures. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) analysis specific to trabecular bone-rich regions is crucial to longitudinal osteoporosis research. The purpose of this study is to define a novel method for accurately analyzing trabecular bone-rich regions in mice via DXA. This method will be utilized to analyze scans obtained from the International Space Station in an upcoming study of microgravity-induced bone loss. Thirty 12-week-old BALB/c mice were studied. The novel method was developed by preanalyzing trabecular bone-rich sites in the distal femur, proximal tibia, and lumbar vertebrae via high-resolution X-ray imaging followed by DXA and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) analyses. The key DXA steps described by the novel method were (1) proper mouse positioning, (2) region of interest (ROI) sizing, and (3) ROI positioning. The precision of the new method was assessed by reliability tests and a 14-week longitudinal study. The bone mineral content (BMC) data from DXA was then compared to the BMC data from micro-CT to assess accuracy. Bone mineral density (BMD) intra-class correlation coefficients of the new method ranging from 0.743 to 0.945 and Levene's test showing that there was significantly lower variances of data generated by new method both verified its consistency. By new method, a Bland–Altman plot displayed good agreement between DXA BMC and micro-CT BMC for all sites and they were strongly correlated at the distal femur and proximal tibia (r=0.846, p<0.01; r=0.879, p<0.01, respectively). The results suggest that the novel method for site-specific analysis of trabecular bone-rich regions in mice via DXA yields more precise, accurate, and repeatable BMD measurements than the conventional method.
We present here results that demonstrate the potential of near-infrared (NIR)-red models to estimate chlorophyll- a (chl- a) concentration in coastal waters using data from the spaceborne Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO). Since the recent demise of the MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), the use of sensors such as HICO has become critical for coastal ocean color research. Algorithms based on two- and three-band NIR-red models, which were previously used very successfully with MERIS data, were applied to HICO images. The two- and three-band NIR-red algorithms yielded accurate estimates of chl- a concentration, with mean absolute errors that were only 10.92% and 9.58%, respectively, of the total range of chl- a concentrations measured over a period of several months in 2012 and 2013 on the Taganrog Bay in Russia. Given the uncertainties in the radiometric calibration of HICO, the results illustrate the robustness of the NIR-red algorithms and validate the radiometric, spectral, and atmospheric corrections applied to HICO data as they relate to estimating chl- a concentration in productive coastal waters. Inherent limitations due to the characteristics of the sensor and its orbit prohibit HICO from providing anywhere near the level of frequent global coverage as provided by standard multispectral ocean color sensors. Nevertheless, the results demonstrate the utility of HICO as a tool for determining water quality in select coastal areas and the cross-sensor applicability of NIR-red models and provide an indication of what could be achieved with future spaceborne hyperspectral sensors in estimating coastal water quality.
A precision measurement by AMS of the positron fraction in primary cosmic rays in the energy range from 0.5 to 500 GeV based on 10.9 million positron and electron events is presented. This measurement extends the energy range of our previous observation and increases its precision. The new results show, for the first time, that above ∼200 GeV the positron fraction no longer exhibits an increase with energy.
The Geostationary Ocean Color imager (GOCI) is the first geostationary ocean color satellite sensor that collects hourly images eight times per day during daylight. This high fre-quency image acquisition makes it possible to study more detailed dynamics of red tide blooms, sediment plumes, and colored dissolved organic matter plumes, and can aid in the prediction of biophysical phenomena. We apply the red band difference and the fluorescence line height algorithms to GOCI imagery to separate waters with high algal and nonalgal particles and validate the results with the MODIS imagery. We also track optical features using hourly GOCI imagery and assess their movement through comparisons with predicted ocean currents derived from the navy coastal ocean model and tidal data.
The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) is the first spaceborne hyperspectral sensor designed specifically for the coastal ocean and estuarial, riverine, or other shallow-water areas. The HICO generates hyperspectral images, primarily over the 400–900 nm spectral range, with a ground sample distance of ≈90 m (at nadir) and a high signal-to-noise ratio. The HICO is now operating on the International Space Station (ISS). Its cross-track and along-track fields of view are 42 km (at nadir) and 192 km, respectively, for a total scene area of 8000 km2. The HICO is an innovative prototype sensor that builds on extensive experience with airborne sensors and makes extensive use of commercial off-the-shelf components to build a space sensor at a small fraction of the usual cost and time. Here we describe the instrument’s design and characterization and present early images from the ISS.
The nature of surface manifestations over internal waves was investigated with a new hyperspectral scanner on board the International Space Station. From observed internal wave patterns in an area close to the Strait of Gibraltar, it was found that the observed increase in radiance is mainly due to reflected solar irradiance.
Many types of cells transit in vitro from a two‐ to a three‐dimensional growth, when they are exposed to microgravity. The underlying mechanisms are not yet understood. Hence, we investigated the impact of microgravity on protein content and growth behavior. For this purpose, the human thyroid cancer cells FTC‐133 were seeded either in recently developed cell containers that can endure enhanced physical forces and perform media changes and cell harvesting automatically or in T‐25 culture flasks. All cells were cultured for five days at 1g. Afterwards, a part of the cell containers were flown to the International Space Station, while another part was kept on the ground. T‐25 flasks were mounted on and next to a Random Positioning Machine. The cells were cultured for 12 days under the various conditions, before they were fixed with RNAlater. All fixed cultures showed monolayers, but three‐dimensional aggregates were not detected. In a subsequent protein analysis, 180 proteins were identified by mass spectrometry. These proteins did not indicate significant differences between cells exposed to microgravity and their 1g controls. However, they suggest that an enhanced production of proteins related to the extracellular matrix could detain the cells from spheroid formation, while profilin‐1 is phosphorylated.
Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) have the ability to spontaneously generate structured tissues in vitro reminiscent of embryonic tissue development. Recently, complex organoids such as cortical tissues, cerebral brain organoids, optical cups, intestinal tissues, and liver buds have been generated from PSCs derived from healthy individuals and patients with genetic diseases, providing powerful tools to understand morphogenesis and disease pathology. This article highlights recent advances in the state-of-art generation of organoids from PSCs, possible signaling pathways and mechanisms involved in organogenesis, and the understanding of extracellular microenvironment. Challenges involved in the organoid generation such as increasing organoid size, enhancing the tissue complexity, and improving functional maturation are also discussed.
Data from the hyperspectral imager for coastal ocean (HICO), mounted on the International Space Station (ISS), were used to develop and test algorithms for remotely retrieving ecosystem productivity. Twenty-six HICO images were used from four study sites representing different vegetation types: grasslands, shrubland, and forest. Gross ecosystem production (GEP) data from eddy covariance were matched with HICO-derived spectra. Multiple algorithms were successful relating spectral reflectance with GEP, including: spectral vegetation indices (SVI), SVI in a light-use efficiency model framework, spectral shape characteristics through spectral derivatives and absorption feature analysis, and statistical models leading to multiband hyperspectral indices from stepwise regressions and partial least squares regression. Suc- cessful algorithms were able to achieve r2 better than 0.7 for both GEP at the overpass time and daily GEP. These algorithms were successful using a diverse set of observations combining data from multiple years, multiple times during growing season, different times of day, with different view angles, and different vegetation types. The demonstrated robustness of the algorithms presented in this study over these conditions provides some confidence in mapping spatial patterns of GEP, describing variability within fields, as well as the regional patterns. The ISS orbit provides periods with multiple observations collected at different times of the day within a period of a few days. Diurnal GEP patterns were estimated comparing the half-hourly average GEP from the flux tower against HICO estimates of GEP (r2 = 0.87) if morning, midday, and afternoon observations were available.
Neutron macromolecular crystallography (NMC) is the prevailing method for the accurate determination of the positions of H atoms in macromolecules. As neutron sources are becoming more available to general users, finding means to optimize the growth of protein crystals to sizes suitable for NMC is extremely important. Historically, much has been learned about growing crystals for X-ray diffraction. However, owing to new-generation synchrotron X-ray facilities and sensitive detectors, protein crystal sizes as small as in the nano-range have become adequate for structure determination, lessening the necessity to grow large crystals. Here, some of the approaches, techniques and considerations for the growth of crystals to significant dimensions that are now relevant to NMC are revisited. These include experimental strategies utilizing solubility diagrams, ripening effects, classical crystallization techniques, microgravity and theoretical considerations.
General adoption of advanced treatment protocols such as chronotherapy will hinge on progress in drug delivery technologies that provide precise temporal control of therapeutic release. Such innovation is also crucial to future medicine approaches such as telemedicine. Here we present a nanofluidic membrane technology capable of achieving active and tunable control of molecular transport through nanofluidic channels. Control was achieved through application of an electric field between two platinum electrodes positioned on either surface of a 5.7 nm nanochannel membrane designed for zero-order drug delivery. Two electrode configurations were tested: laser-cut foils and electron beam deposited thin-films, configurations capable of operating at low voltage (≤1.5 V), and power (100 nW). Temporal, reproducible tuning and interruption of dendritic fullerene 1 (DF-1) transport was demonstrated over multi-day release experiments. Conductance tests showed limiting currents in the low applied potential range, implying ionic concentration polarization (ICP) at the interface between the membrane's micro- and nanochannels, even in concentrated solutions (≤1 M NaCl). The ability of this nanotechnology platform to facilitate controlled delivery of molecules and particles has broad applicability to next-generation therapeutics for numerous pathologies, including autoimmune diseases, circadian dysfunction, pain, and stress, among others.