Space Station Sunday: Comm Delays And No EVAs

This week on humanity's favorite orbital outpost, science and progress continued apace.  As reported by, several ongoing experiments gained valuable new information.

One experiment dealt with communications (comm) delays, analyzing at what rate information could be relayed to the station without causing undue stress on the astronauts receiving and implementing the data.  The astronauts were asked to perform eight different tasks of varying ease and familiarity, with and without 50-second comm delays.  The coherence and capability of their responses was then judged by a psychological team on earth, who will utilize the data to better understand how far-flung expeditions may operate with little or no consistent advice from the home planet.  Since radio waves travel at the speed of light, this delay could pose a serious issue on Mars, for example, where the comm delay could take 31 minutes due to distance.  So yes, prospective Mars colonists, pizza delivery from Earth is going to take some time up there.

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson underwent a series of activities while wearing special new odor-resistant clothes that are more lightweight than the traditional cotton gear the crew sports around the station.  This could dramatically lower payload weights (which are ~900 pounds of conventional cotton) as well as reduce lint getting trapped in the ISS air filters as though it were a giant laundry machine.  The new clothes, made from wool, polyester, and modacrylic, have proven durable, and may be of further use on Earth in locations where consistently doing laundry proves impractical.  College kids will love them!

Other science conducted on the ISS involved deducing ways to eliminate headaches in space, analysis of astronauts' circadian rhythms (which can get mighty messed up with sixteen sunrises each "day"), research on various elements of cardiovascular science, and even an assessment of Force Shoes, a new technology that provides feedback on the full extent of exercise loads applied to the onboard space treadmill.  Hey, they got new kicks were obviously required as well.

Two American spacewalks were postponed due to battery issues in the EVA (extravehicular activity) suits, but as NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman wisely stated on NASA's "Station To Ground" videocast, "I think it's awesome that Mission Control down in Houston decided to push these off.  Of course, I'm a little sad about that, but when I go out the door, I want it to be in a good clean configuration."  RIGHT?

Although the spacewalks were cancelled, German astronaut Alexander Gerst was still psyched to fly through an aurora, snapping this image and stating on Twitter, "I made a wish, just in case it's an undiscovered rule."

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