L-238: Logbook

After flying a "slow orbit" around the world for the last couple of months, I'm now back at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne for some training on experiments and some medical exams.

Today I had an introduction to the portable Pulmonary Function System (PFS), an interesting piece of equipment that allows the analysis of gas exhaled by a subject. In some configurations the subjects breaths cabin air, in others he/she breaths a known gas mixture that includes a metabolically inert tracking gas. PFS is required for the new ESA experiment "Airway Monitoring", which should start during my increment on ISS. The protocol uses Nitric Oxide (exhaled or diffused into the blood) as a biomarker for inflammation of the airways and aims at observing the effect produced by microgravity and partial pressure: for the latter, in particular, two subjects will be isolated in the airlock and the pressure will be reduced to about 10 PSI. It's a very new field of study and one that promises great insight into the gas exchange processes in the lung and the effects of the space environment on the respiratory system.

I also had a lesson on the experiment Skin-B, which is focused instead on the aging process of the skin. Generally speaking the Space Station is a great place to learn about aging, because unfortunately many body systems, including the skin, undergo an accelerated aging in space. Skin-B will observe that with a quick protocol involving pictures and measurements of hydration level and water diffusion from inside the skin (which points to a deterioration of the skin's barrier function). Tomorrow the principal investigators will be here for a baseline data collection session: I guess I will learn the actual "age" of my skin - at least the portion on my forearm.

Picture: Skin-B training with Laura (Credit: ESA/Grotheus)

#SamLogbook  #Futura

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