Navigation Links
International Space Station researcher guides aim to maximize science

How many times do we see an innovation and think, "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?" Our minds start turning towards thoughts of our own invention, sparking ideas and building possibilities. This type of inspiration is the concept behind the International Space Station Program Science Office's new 15-book Researcher's Guide Series. When scientists see what their colleagues have going on in orbit, their mental wheels may begin to speed up!

"Our goal is to encourage investigators to propose new research and potentially make discoveries that they could not make in an Earth-based lab," said Amelia Rai, International Space Station Program Office scientific communications specialist and project manager for the research guides. "We have the unique opportunity with these books to increase utilization of the space station as a national laboratory. The guides are part of a strategic plan to educate potential users of the space station platform on how they could transfer their ground-based experiments to space."

Organized by discipline, the books detail on-orbit studies and facilities to prompt new investigations. Scientists who might not have considered microgravity research before may be only a book away from getting a light bulb moment of their own.

"Our target audience is scientists who have not yet done space research, but who are experienced in discipline research in their own laboratories," said Rai. "In addition, we are targeting systems experts who might not be aware of opportunities to use space station as an engineering test bed."

The first part of the series launched online on May 14 with three books already available for download in pdf format and online viewing. These include Technology Demonstration, Microbial Research, and Earth Observations. The first book made its official debut at the July 2013 ISS Research and Development Conference in Denver, with the latter two debuting at the 2014 conference in Chicago in June.

"We were all excited to hear Mike Suffredini, ISS Program Manager, announce that [the books] were available at the conference when he made his keynote speech last July," said Rai. "The feedback has been extremely positive, and I had co-workers contact me from the conference venue to tell me the books were going fast and generating a lot of interest."

The rest of the books should finish rolling out by December, completing the series. The remaining topics include Plant Science, Rodent Research, Combustion Science, Fluid Physics, Fundamental Physics, Fruit Fly Research, Cellular Biology, Space Environment Effects, Human Research, Acceleration Environment, Microgravity Materials Research, and Macromolecular Crystal Growth.

"The books were also well received by the Government Printing Office which is making them available in bookstores and libraries across the country," said Rai. "I was told that this rarely happens and will likely happen for the entire series."

The hope is that each guide book will start a conversation in the community of each research discipline, educating, engaging and encouraging scientists to seek opportunities. The question researchers should ask themselves while reading is, "how can my ground-based experiments translate to the microgravity environment?" The answers can be endless with the books offering a jumping point to the creative process. Once an idea emerges for interested scientists, NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) have avenues to assistance and resources to help take research concepts into reality and ultimately to orbit.

"The books are written at a level that would help new users see opportunities and begin developing proposals for these opportunities through either NASA or CASIS," said Rai. "These guides would answer the questions of a 'first conversation' about how to use the space station in their discipline, and motivate them to learn enough from other sources, or find a partnership to develop full proposals within the future."

As the books point out, the unique factors of the space environment create fertile grounds for scientific investigation. By removing a variable that is essentially a constant on the Earth--gravity--researchers increase the chances of discovery. They also have factors such as exposure to radiation, extreme temperatures, the vacuum of space and atomic oxygen to add to the mix. The station provides a platform with a 51 degree inclination that orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, which may appeal to those interested in Earth remote sensing.

"We decided to put ourselves in the position of a researcher who may not be aware of the benefits of research in microgravity and considered the questions they might ask," said Rai. "We want researchers to be aware that humankind has never before had a laboratory where the variable of gravity could be controlled and now they do for at least ten more years. The space station is currently approved to fly until 2024 affording us a decade to continue experiments in microgravity by offering scientists and engineers opportunities to further explore, make scientific discoveries and support the commercial use of space."

What this means for researchers, who can find the books online here, depends on their area of focus. For those interested in external instruments, the station can offer improved spatial resolution and varied times of day for capturing data. This could fill in the gaps for satellite instruments, which are on a different, sun-synchronous orbit from that of the station. For those measuring how a material may stand up to harsh conditions, you have quite the mix of elements to expose that sample to by mounting it externally. And with flames that burn as spheres, fluids that fill containers based on the shape of the vessel, and bacteria and viruses that may behave differently in space, there's much to explore and discover. Removing that one variable--gravity--makes a world of difference.

"These books are designed to start that conversation with the appropriate contacts in that discipline," said Rai. "In truth, the benefactors of this research are potentially all of us. The books are designed to engage the research community, but the research has the potential to change the world. Nowhere on Earth or in its orbit is there an equivalent multi-discipline lab that can support experiments in microgravity. Taking gravity out of the equation creates a unique research environment that alters many observable phenomena within the physical and life sciences."

Contact: Laura Niles
NASA/Johnson Space Center

Related biology news :

1. Registration is now open for the HFES 2014 International Annual Meeting
2. Largest International Meeting for the Study of Reproductive Biology Attracts Researchers from 36 Countries in Grand Rapids, Michigan
3. International Biometrics Technology Market - Industry Analysis Size Share Growth Trends and Forecast to 2019
4. Marshall University to partner with international company in drug development venture
5. The ICIST-KAIST International Conference 2014 from August 4-8, 2014 in Korea
6. International Tree Nut Council study results may help people with type 2 diabetes
7. 10th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology
8. 2013s most compelling International Space Station results announced
9. International study yields important clues to the genetics of epilepsy
10. An international partnership takes the stage at ESOF 2014
11. Scientific breakthrough: International collaboration has sequence salmon genome
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
International Space Station researcher guides aim to maximize science
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, ... for U.S. distribution of its DNA library preparation ... and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... the preparation of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the ... diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer and other ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- Munich, Germany , October ... automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos created ... that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s analysis ... , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze ... tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... , Oct. 23, 2015 Research and ... the "Global Voice Recognition Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... --> The global voice recognition biometrics ... 2014-2019. --> --> ... has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... CITY , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna ... affirms that its business and prospects remain fundamentally ... , Zoptrex™ (zoptarelin doxorubicin) recently received DSMB recommendation ... to completion following review of the final interim ... Phase 2 Primary Endpoint in men with heavily ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte, ... their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying it forward to other ... stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, they join other successful ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) will be presenting at the ... on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT . ... a corporate overview. th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference ... a.m. PT . Jim Mazzola , vice president of ... --> th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, ... release there are no corporate developments that would cause ... --> --> About Aeterna ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: