L-129: Logbook

Yesterday I had my second BDC (base data collection) session for the ESA experiment Airway Monitoring. You can find some information about the science background in this older logbook from EAC, where I had my introductory class: https://plus.google.com/+SamanthaCristoforetti/posts/boWGMq3mPgX

Why do we need to gather pre-flight data on the ground? Well, if you need to understand the effect of weightlessness on a phenomenon, you need to observe it first in normal 1G conditions. Then you'll be able to compare that data with the data you collect in space and determine what changes are induced by microgravity.

In the case of Airway Monitoring, as you might remember, we're interested in studying the gaseous exchange in the lungs in two conditions: normal pressure and reduced pressure (10 PSI, that's about 2/3 of normal atmospheric pressure). In space we'll do the reduced pressure measurement in the airlock, that we will depressurize accordingly... but how do we do this on the ground?

That's what makes the Airway Monitoring BDC intersting: we do the BDC in a hypobaric chamber, a facility that is typically used for the hypoxia training that pilots, parachuters... astronauts periodically go through. In the chamber you can progressively reduce the pressure simulating flying to higher altitudes. The 10PSI we targeted are roughly equivalent to an altitude of 10.000 ft. 

The first type of measurement is fairly simple: I need to exhale into an analyzer that will measure the nitric oxide (NO) content of my exhalation. NO is a marker of airway inflammation, but since there might be some NO in the air that I breath in, I also need to inhale through a scrubber that removes it. Now we're sure that any NO measured in my exhalation is really from my lungs! 

The second type of measurement is a bit more complicated and is needed to understand the lung NO turnover: how much NO is actually diffused into my blood, instead of exhaled? That's where we need the Portable PFS facility: I inhale from a bag containing a known gas mixture (including NO and an inert trace gas) and when I exhale the central portion of my exhaled breath is collected in another bag and analyzed.

This experiment is exciting both from a fundamental science point of view, as well as for applications in space and on the ground. In terms of knowledge, it will improve our understanding of how lungs and respirations function. This will help in diagnosing and treating lung disease: think for example that over 300 million people worldwide have asthma and in some regions of the worlds the condition unfortunately is often not diagnosed. 

For space exploration, it's really important to understand what happens to astronauts' lungs during long duration spaceflight. We are bound to inhale a lot of small particles that float in the air in microgravity, while on Earth they fall to the ground - just think of how fast dust can accumulate in your house (or at least it does in mine!)


Futura mission website (Italian): Avamposto42
avamposto42.esa.int

#SamLogbook  #Futura42

(Trad IT)  Traduzione in italiano a cura di +AstronautiNEWS qui:
http://www.astronautinews.it/tag/logbook/

(Trad ES) Tradducción en español aquí:
http://www.intervidia.com/category/bitacora/

(Trad FR) Traduction en français par +Anne Cpamoa ici:
 https://spacetux.org/cpamoa/category/traductions/logbook-samantha/ 
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