Wednesday December 19, 2018

Vision deterioration in astronauts likely owing to lack of a day-night cycle in intracranial pressure: Scientists

Vision deterioration in astronauts is likely owing to the lack of a day-night cycle in intracranial pressure, say scientists

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New York, Jan 19, 2017: Vision deterioration in astronauts is likely owing to the lack of a day-night cycle in intracranial pressure, say scientists, adding that using a vacuum device to lower pressure for part of each day might prevent the problem.

To study how zero-gravity conditions affect intracranial pressure, researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre recruited volunteer patients who had had a port permanently placed in their head as part of treatment for cancer.

The ports provided a way for researchers to measure intracranial pressure.

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NASA flights then flew the eight volunteers one by one on steep up-and-down maneuvers (parabolic flights) that created 20-second intervals of weightlessness.

The researchers measured intracranial pressure during the zero-gravity intervals and compared these with intracranial pressure during standard times of sitting, lying face upward (supine), and lying with head inclined downward.

The findings showed that intracranial pressure in zero-gravity conditions, such as exists in space, is higher than when people are standing or sitting on Earth, but lower than when people are sleeping on Earth.

“These challenging experiments were among the most ambitious human studies ever attempted and changed the way we think about the effect of gravity – and its absence – on pressure inside the brain,” said senior author Dr Benjamin Levine, Professor of Internal Medicine.

It suggests that the constancy of pressure on the back of the eye causes the vision problems astronauts experience over time.

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“The information from these studies is already leading to novel partnerships with companies to develop tools to simulate the upright posture in space while astronauts sleep, thereby normalising the circadian variability in intracranial pressure,” added Dr Levine.

“The idea is that the astronauts would wear negative pressure clothing or a negative pressure device while they sleep, creating lower intracranial pressure for part of each 24 hours,” noted first author Dr Justin Lawley in a paper appeared in the Journal of Physiology. (IANS)

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Rocket Lab is Set To Launch 10 NASA CubeSats

They will be placed in RailPODs aboard the Electron rocket that will ferry them to space

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Rocket Lab to launch 10 NASA CubeSats on Sunday. Pixabay

In its first mission for NASA, the American aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab is set to launch 10 small research satellites, or CubeSats, from New Zealand, the US space agency said.

Owing to bad weather, Rocket Lab was forced to postpone the earlier decided launch on December 12.

Rocket Lab is now targeting the ELaNa-19 launch on December 15 with a launch window opening at 11 p.m. EST from the company’s launch complex on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

The CubeSats were built by three NASA centres, seven universities, and a middle school under the NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites, or (ELaNa-19) mission.

ElaNa-19 is NASA’s first to be completely dedicated to launching CubeSats under the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services program for small-satellite launches.

More than 250 students have been involved in the design, development and construction of the CubeSats scheduled to be flown as payloads on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Owing to bad weather, Rocket Lab was forced to postpone the earlier decided launch on December 12. Flickr

“The major difference between today’s launch and previous #ELaNa missions is that for the first time, NASA will have a launch completely dedicated to CubeSats rather than having the small satellites ride along with a much larger spacecraft that is the primary mission,” NASA Launch Services Program officials wrote on Twitter on December 12.

The 10 CubeSats are named as CubeSail, CeREs, NMTSat, CHOMPTT, ALBus, STF-1, ISX, RSat, Shields-1 and DaVinci, NASA said.

These are built to standard dimensions of one unit (1U), and can be 1U, 2U, 3U or 6U in size. They generally weigh less than 1.33 kg per U — 6U may be up to 12 kg.

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They will be placed in RailPODs aboard the Electron rocket that will ferry them to space.

After the main payload deploys, the CubeSats will separate from their RailPODs. After 45 minutes in orbit, the CubeSat transmitters will turn on and university ground stations will listen for their beacons, determine their small satellites’ functionality and announce operational status.

CubeSat mission durations and orbital life vary but are anticipated to last at least three years. Upon mission completion, the CubeSats fall to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere, NASA noted. (IANS)