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New health studies to benefit astronauts, life on Earth

Clouds – Earth as seen by David Saint-Jacques

Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is funding eight new scientific investigations to help mitigate health risks for future space travellers and help improve the wellbeing of people on Earth.

As a complement to Canadian science already underway on the International Space Station, each study uses one of three ground-based research approaches:

  • using databases or existing samples from previous space studies
    Researcher and institution Study topic
    Dr. Frédéric Pitre, Université de Montréal Analyzing Mars500 crew microbiomes using improved metagenomics
    Dr. Richard Hughson, University of Waterloo Mining data from previous CSA cardiovascular studies BP Reg and Vascular to test new hypotheses about astronauts' cardiovascular systems
  • using non-human organisms such as animals or cells as models for human biology
    Researcher and institution Study topic
    Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, Mount Saint Vincent University Understanding bone loss with zebrafish larvae in a simulated microgravity environment
    Dr. Odette Laneuville, University of Ottawa Understanding shoulder overuse and preventing injuries in microgravity with mudskipper fish
    Dr. Svetlana V. Komarova, McGill University Studying bone loss associated with skeletal muscle changes and fluid shift in astronauts
    Dr. Yeni Yucel, Unity Health Toronto Using a research model to study space-related vision changes experienced by some astronauts
  • using space-like conditions to test human subjects
    Researcher and institution Study topic
    Dr. Laurence Harris, York University Self-motion under gravity: Changes to perception systems in human subjects on Earth subjected to varying levels of gravity
    Dr. Andrew Philip Blaber, Simon Fraser University Testing the use of artificial gravity as a countermeasure against common space-related disturbances of cardiovascular and cerebral responses

The investigations, which include the participation of researchers from Canadian institutions, were selected from proposals submitted to Announcements of Opportunity published by the CSA in . As with all research supported by the CSA, these studies will lead to a better understanding of human spaceflight risks while also contributing to health benefits here on Earth.

Canada's space industry to continue supporting Canadian robotics on the International Space Station

Canadarm2 and Dextre – David Saint-Jacques aboard the International Space Station

Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA

Today, the Government of Canada issued a new contract to MDA for the continuing operations and maintenance of the Mobile Servicing System, the Canadian Space Agency's robotics suite—comprised of Canadarm2, Dextre and the Mobile Base System—on the International Space Station (ISS). The contract, worth $190 million, will enable MDA to provide essential engineering and logistics support over the next four years.

The ISS is a test bed and stepping stone to the Moon and Mars. This investment is an opportunity for the Canadian space sector to maintain its international leadership in space robotics as Canada prepares for the next chapter of space exploration, the Lunar Gateway—the cornerstone of Canada's Space Strategy.

Canadian robots poised for cosmic catch, cargo installation as resupply ship heads to Station

Credit: NASA

On , SpaceX's Dragon cargo ship will blast off from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, headed to the International Space Station (ISS).

Three days later, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan will use Canadarm2 to capture the unpiloted vehicle. Robotics flight controllers will then berth Dragon to the Station, where it is expected to remain for about a month.

Towards the end of March, robotics controllers working jointly from Canadian Space Agency headquarters and NASA's Johnson Space Center will use Canadian robot Dextre to unload Dragon's unpressurized trunk. The resupply mission will bring Bartolomeo, a new commercial science platform, to the Station. Dextre is scheduled to install it to the exterior of the ISS's Columbus module in .

Live coverage of Dragon's launch will begin on NASA TV on , at 11:30 p.m. ET.

Rendezvous and capture operations will also be broadcast on , at 5:30 a.m. ET (capture scheduled for 7 a.m. ET).

Canadarm2 gears up to catch Cygnus ship on a resupply run to International Space Station

Credit: NASA

On , Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo ship will launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, headed for the International Space Station (ISS).

Three days later, NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir will use Canadarm2, the Station's 17-metre-long robotic arm, to capture the visiting vehicle by carefully aligning the arm's "hand" with a grappling target on Cygnus's exterior. Following the cosmic catch, robotics controllers will berth the ship to the Station. It is expected to remain at the ISS for about three months.

Cygnus's arrival closely follows the notable departure of its fellow Cygnus on . That mission marked the first time that the ground team working jointly from Canadian Space Agency headquarters and NASA in Houston, was solely responsible for releasing this type of unpiloted vehicle from the orbiting laboratory.

Coverage of the launch will be broadcast on NASA TV on , beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Capture operations will also be broadcast on , beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET (capture scheduled to take place around 4:05 a.m. ET).

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