Christina Koch’s year of ISS science

The record books will remember Christina Koch for her record setting 328 days in space, the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman and for her part in the first all-female spacewalk. Since launching to the station in March 2019, she’s conducted a lot of experiments that will have lasting impacts on human spaceflight and science.

She has been the focus of experiments on how long spaceflight impacts the humans particularly female body. Data from her mission along with Scott Kelly’s 340 day stay will help better understand how astronauts bodies might react to long duration missions to Mars or back to the Moon.

Some of that research was focused on how kidney health is affected by microgravity and other factors of space travel, including water conservation and recycling, and altered diets. Researchers are applying what was learned in orbit to treatments for kidney stones and osteoporosis back on the ground. She also worked with 3D printing of organ-like tissues in space,

Christina did North Carolina farmers proud in botany studies in microgravity studies at the cellular, tissue, whole plant and community levels. The crew enjoyed some of the Mizuna mustard greens grown in space while others were frozen for return to Earth for further analysis.

Christina Koch

Koch and crewmate Luca Parmitano also experimented it a micro-gravity oven, baking five chocolate chip cookies from scratch. The experiment discovered that what normally requires 16-18 on the ground took more than two hours and a slightly higher temperature and were surprisingly unaffected by microgravity. Results will further efforts to “make long-duration space travel more hospitable.” The experiment used a recipe provided by Hilton’s DoubleTree chain that you can try at home.

Koch help test new robotic assistants which fly freely through the ISS to assist astronauts with routine chores, perform crew monitoring, take environmental samples and assist logistics management on the orbiting laboratory. She also participated in research on how fire behaves in space. Results are hoped to help improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollution here on Earth as well as prevent fires in space.

Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch

Christina put her experience as a researcher in Antarctica to bear again in the Cold Atom Laboratory onboard the ISS. The experiment chills clouds of atoms to one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero where atoms have almost no motion enabling study of behaviors and characteristics. Discoveries there can have wide ranging applications from fundamental physics to improved clocks needed for the next generation of spacecraft navigation. Work there may open the door for development of quantum technologies in space.

She also spent a lot of time looking through microscopes looking for answers to why protein crystals grown in space are larger and more organized than those grown on Earth. This can help researchers from many fields better develop, formulate, manufacture and store a wide variety of products, especially pharmaceuticals.

Published at Thu, 06 Feb 2020 02:28:06 +0000