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Transfer of our payload to the space station

Earth Observation Taken By Expedition 49 Crew

Earth observation taken during a night pass by the Expedition 49 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Docked Soyuz and Progress spacecraft visible. (Provided by

Written by Melissa Kacena

Our study has four scheduled activities which require astronaut time.

The first occurred at the end of the astronaut “work day” when our payload was transferred from the dragon capsule into the International Space Station on Sunday, July 28.

Initially all appeared to be OK; but within an hour the telemetry data was showing abnormal temperature readings with the temperature at the inlet port of the hardware, e.g. the temperature coming from the space station and going to our hardware.

Unfortunately, the discrepancy was not discovered until the crew was asleep and so it could not be addressed until the next morning. Once awake, the crew tried to determine whether there was an obstruction or any other problem. Nothing was visible. They then placed the hardware into a different location (they are called locker positions) and sure enough everything was OK.

While it is encouraging that everything appears to be resolved, we don’t know what, if anything, the impact will be on the cells. Cells, just like humans, are sensitive to temperature changes.

Since we are examining differences in genes, proteins, metabolites, etc., all of which can change with temperature changes, we don’t know whether the overnight temperature difference will significantly impact our findings.  Clearly a lesson learned is to transfer the hardware early in the day so that this type of issue can be caught and then resolved immediately.

While we are concerned about this observation, we are hopeful to still obtain meaningful data. Stay tuned for more information.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Caitlin VanOverberghe

Caitlin VanOverberghe is a communications coordinator for the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she supports the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Department of Ophthalmology. Having earned degrees in journalism and telecommunications ...