4 Things Scientists Learned In 2020 From Space Research


With dozens of experiments conducted at any one time on the International Space Station (ISS), a lot has been learned above a planet in the grip of a pandemic.

The NASA reports that between 1 October 2019 and 1 October 2020, research on the ISS appeared in more than 300 scientific publications.

Here are some of the results of research conducted by astronauts and published in 2020.

Canadian contributions to anemia research

The research by the Agency Canadian Space on the ISS have studied the effects of spatial anemia, a condition that astronauts often develop on the human body.

Called the MARROW survey, researchers looked at microgravity and its effects on the bone marrow. The research shows that microgravity has similar effects on the body that rest on long-term bed on Earth , nearly half of the astronauts (48%) developing anemia after long missions.

The blood-producing cells and fat cells share space in the bone marrow. When fat cells grow, it reduces the space left for blood-producing cells, a process seen in both astronauts and bedridden patients.

The study suggests that recovery can take between one and three months depending on the length of the space mission.

A better understanding of the effects of microgravity and space travel on the body is needed, the researchers write, for “space travel to other planets, space tourism and for the care of bedridden patients. present changes similar to those of astronauts ”.

Possible treatment for bone density problems

A study by the Italian Space Agency found that a specific type of nanoparticle could be used as a countermeasure to the osteoporosis problems that astronauts often face after long periods in space.

Five years after Italian scientists sent the experiment to a team made up of all women, their results were published in the research journal Scientific Reports .

The study suggests that nanoparticles made up of minerals similar to those found in bones and teeth may promote the transformation of stem cells into osteoblasts, or cells that form new bone.

According to the Canadian Space Agency , due to space’s microgravity environment, astronauts lose an average of 1 to 2% of their bone mineral density each month, making this research promising in preventing bone health problems. in astronauts during longer space missions. as for use in osteoporosis treatments here on Earth .

The return of the joystick works in video games and space

The fans may know video games the force feedback sensation on the joysticks, but a new study shows that a similar haptic technology is beneficial in space.

For the uninitiated, some joysticks and other video game devices vibrate or shake when certain actions are taken, and the feedback brings yet another of the five senses into gameplay.

The ISS researchers tested a return similar force on the mechanisms that astronauts use to control remotely operated robots. Since research shows microgravity has an effect on movement control after six weeks, haptic feedback can help people on remotely operated missions feel more in tune with the robot or rover they are trying to operate.

How germs spread, even in space

While not all germs are bad – some are even beneficial to human health – it’s important to keep track of how they spread.

The bacteria and fungi of the Earth make up hitchhiking on the ISS astronauts are headed to, and the published results of the study Microbial Tracking -2 NASA revealed that Germs are even left behind in fingerprints found around the station.

Not only that, but the microorganisms living in the fingerprints on the station’s surfaces could be traced back to the skin of an individual astronaut and used to determine when they arrived.

This research can not only be used to protect the health of astronauts when they work and live in an enclosed space, but also to help workers in hospitals and other health care facilities here on Earth understand the presence of microbes.