A SpaceX resupply spacecraft has left for the International Space Station (ISS) carrying science experiments that will help carry out climate science research in space. Launched on the Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Cargo Dragon spacecraft is transporting 5,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and other cargo. This is SpaceX’s 25th commercial resupply services mission to the ISS for NASA.
The SpaceX spacecraft is loaded with a number of experiments with one being the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Investigation (EMIT). It is an instrument developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA and is equipped with the space agency’s imaging spectroscopy technology. It will help study the mineral composition of dust in Earth’s arid regions.
The mineral dust, once blown into the air, can reach the farthest corners of Earth and affect the climate, vegetation, weather, and more. EMIT will gather images for a year and create maps of the mineral composition of the regions that produce dust on Earth. While dust particles that carry dark minerals can warm up a region by absorbing sunlight, light-coloured mineral dust can lower the temperature in an area.
In addition, blowing dust also has an impact on the air quality and surface conditions like the rate of melting of snow, and the health of phytoplankton in the ocean. The mapping by EMIT will help researchers gain a better understanding of the effects of mineral dust on the human populations today and in the future as well.
Researchers will also conduct an Immunosenescence investigation aboard the International Space Station to study the effects of microgravity on the immune system. It is believed that microgravity results in changes in the human immune cells. Researchers will use tissue chips to examine how microgravity impacts the immune response during flight and if they recover after the flight.
The other experiment, Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space, will study the effects of microgravity on metabolic interactions. It will also observe the Earth’s climate and weather systems. The spacecraft is also carrying the Genes in Space-9 experiment which could help in providing portable, simple, and low-cost tools for medical diagnostics.
The Biopolymer Research for In-Situ Capabilities experiment, meanwhile, will probe how microgravity can affect the process of creating concrete alternatives using organic materials or on-site materials.