The use of the International Space Station by German scientists commenced in March 2001. Until now, twelve Space Shuttle and Russian Soyuz missions' crews have performed 14 German experiments/experiment series. More experiments have been performed with the arrival of Astrolab.
Overview of the experiments
Scientists have long been aware that spending time in space affects an astronaut's immune system, but the exact reason for this, and the mechanisms at work, are not well understood. A variety of stress factors, such as isolation, workload and disrupted sleep pattern, are probably some of the triggers. But living in space is also associated with a number of special conditions such as weightlessness and radiation, which also play a part. Seriously ill people on Earth have to contend with similar immunological problems. In both cases, there needs to be a sufficient ability to fight off disease but at the same time the immune system must not be overtaxed.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has had pioneering experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS) since the very beginning. Indeed, scientific research activities onboard the station got underway in February 2001 with a German experiment, which is still running as part of a German-Russian collaboration.
For the past 18 months, a phantom has been living on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS). Now, however, it’s keeping the ISS crew company. But we’re not talking about a peculiar kind of space ghost – our phantom is a scientific experiment called MATROSHKA for measuring the radiation level inside and outside the ISS. The 'phantom' is in fact a special dummy. The system for the experiment was developed and built by DLR.