The Retinal Diagnostics experiment. © DLR: All rights reserved.
December 21, 2021
German astronaut Matthias Maurer already started conducting the three experiments of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine during the first weeks of his stay on the ISS. With the technology experiment Retinal Diagnostics he is investigating the effects of weightlessness on eye health. About two thirds of the astronauts experience a change in their eyes, the so-called Spaceflight-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). It is associated with stays in microgravity from about 30 days or longer and has been called the second most common risk to human health during a Mars mission. This makes SANS an important area for research and innovation for future missions.
The Retinal Diagnostics experiment will explore the causes of and possible countermeasures to prevent SANS by using a lens attached to an iPad to video Maurer's optic disc from his colleague. Solving this problem is critical for future lunar and Mars missions but also for terrestrial ophthalmology. The retinal diagnostic study is sponsored by Technology Marketing and the Institute of Aerospace Medicine of the German Aerospace Center and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Eye changes and their prevention through countermeasures are also the focus of research in the current SANS-CM bed rest study, which is taking place at the :envihab research facility in collaboration between DLR and NASA.
DOSIS 3D MINI
For the DOSIS 3D MINI experiment, Matthias Maurer placed all the sensors in ten locations in the American and Russian parts of the space station. The small orange packages are filled with thousands of radiation sensors to measure the radiation exposure inside the space station. Since 2012, the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine and international partners have been conducting the DOSIS 3D (Dose Distribution Inside the ISS 3D) experiment in the Columbus laboratory of the ISS. The aim of this long-term experiment is to determine the radiation distribution in Columbus with passive and active radiation detectors as a function of the flight altitude of the space station and solar activity. Within the framework of Matthias Maurer's mission, this experiment in the Columbus laboratory (DOSIS 3D COL) has now been extended: With the DOSIS 3D MINI experiment, an additional ten detector packages flew to the space station, which Matthias Maurer then attached in addition to the eleven detector packages in the Columbus laboratory. Thus, during Matthias Maurer's mission, measurements will be performed at a total of 21 locations within the space station.
More photos of the DOSIS 3D and Touching Surfaces experiments: Cosmic Kiss: Science.
For the Touching Surfaces experiment, Matthias Maurer is investigating and testing novel surfaces for their antimicrobial effectiveness under space conditions. This is because long-term stays in a space station lead to the development of a microflora of its own from the microorganisms carried along, which can affect health on board. For the experiment, Matthias Maurer will touch various surfaces with his fingers at regular intervals over the next few months to investigate the adhesion of microorganisms to different materials and structures such as steel, copper and brass.
Upon their return to Earth, the samples will then be studied in terms of materials science and microbiology. In order to also investigate the application in everyday life on Earth, the same experimental setup is in place at ten schools as well as at the University Hospital in Cologne: New surfaces are also tested in these environments with the aim of being able to improve decontamination such as in hospitals in the future. Thus, the microbiological Touching Surfaces experiment serves as an interface between applied basic research and technology and application in public spaces.
See also the video: "Touching Surfaces in the ISS - Testing Novel Antimicrobial Surfaces"
Matthias Maurer with a "Touch array" in the Columbus module. Source: ESA/DLR/CosmicKiss.