Astronauts Conduct Robotics, Lab Maintenance, and Microbiology Research Aboard the International Space Station

In September 2023, the Expedition 69 crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) focused on a variety of tasks, including robotics operations, lab maintenance, and microbiology research. One notable accomplishment was the activation of Astrobee, a free-flying robotic helper, inside the Kibo laboratory module. Student-written algorithms were used to control the robotic assistants, promoting problem-solving skills and space education.

Monitoring the robotic activities was astronaut Satoshi Furukawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). His observations will be reviewed by ground-based researchers. Meanwhile, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen captured a stunning photo of the Cygnus spacecraft, which has been docked to the ISS since early August. The spacecraft displayed its unique cymbal-shaped solar arrays.

Inside the Columbus laboratory module, three flight engineers worked on reorganizing the research facility. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Flight Engineer Frank Rubio and ESA Flight Engineer Andreas Mogensen collaborated to move research and cargo racks. Their efforts were in preparation for new exercise gear that will be used to keep astronauts healthy during long-term space missions.

NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli concluded the work by restoring the Columbus lab to its operating configuration and stowing hardware. This adjustment was necessary to accommodate the new exercise equipment. Additionally, Mogensen conducted a study on Earth’s reflective properties, capturing photographs of the Moon during specific lunar phases. These results may provide insights into Earth’s climate using satellite instruments.

Microbiology duties fell to Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, who collected and stowed microbe samples from surfaces inside the Zvezda service and Nauka science modules. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin focused on studying fermentation to improve food preservation and preparation in space. Commander Sergey Prokopyev, working towards their return to Earth, began preparing hardware for packing inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship.

Overall, the astronauts of Expedition 69 engaged in a variety of important research and maintenance activities aboard the ISS, contributing to our understanding of space exploration and enabling progress in scientific endeavors.

– International Space Station (ISS) Glossary
– JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Glossary
– European Space Agency (ESA) Glossary
– NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Glossary
– Roscosmos Glossary