Our blue dot
Science & Exploration

Blue Dot update

15/07/2014 3544 views 22 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Blue dot

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst continues to thrive in his space habitat one month into his Blue Dot mission on the International Space Station.

Over the last few weeks, he’s been working on experiments from NASA, Japan’s space agency and, of course, ESA.

Burning fuel in space
Burning fuel in space

The orbital outpost is a fully equipped weightless laboratory and it shows in the variety of science Alexander has conducted, from experiments on skin and eyes to headaches and sleep patterns as well as studying the physics behind crystals, liquids and fire while testing ‘smart’ shoes and a new form of propulsion.

All astronauts train for 90 minutes every day to help them return to Earth healthy and mission designers are always keen on improving the fitness routine. NASA’s smart shoes measure the forces on the feet as their wearers run around the world on the Station’s treadmill.

The information will feed into improving the fitness equipment for future exploration missions, making them lighter and smaller.

The approach could be used in future satellite formations, saving fuel and weight. Alexander helped to set up the experiment with NASA colleague Reid Wiseman.

Keeping experiments running smoothly

Some experiments don’t need an astronaut’s involvement all the time, but still require maintenance: Alexander repaired a cable that could have led to problems for radiation readings being transmitted to researchers on Earth.

He also checked a water pump in Europe’s Columbus laboratory to make sure it is working smoothly. A number of pumps around the Station keep the module and its experiments at the correct temperature.

Play
$video.data_map.short_description.content
Alexander working on the Columbus water pump
Access the video

For the third time, the entire 450-tonne Station was turned to track the Sun for ESA’s Solar package, a suite of instruments that monitor sunlight to improve computer models. The Station’s orbit means Solar cannot follow our source of life over a full solar rotation – lasting about a whole Earth month – without rotating the whole complex.

Preparing for traffic

Robotic arm test-run
Robotic arm test-run

Alexander teamed up with NASA shipmates Reid and Steve Swanson for a practice run of grappling the Orbital-2 supply vessel that is set to arrive tomorrow. Catching and berthing the spacecraft requires moving the 16 m-long robotic arm in six dimensions in a two-person job.

Earlier, Alexander and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov checked the control panel and video that will be used when ESA’s fifth and last Automated Transfer Vehicle docks with the Station at the end of this month.

Related Articles

Horizons logo
Science & Exploration

New Horizons for Alexander Gerst

29/05/2017 12508 views 134 likes
Open item
Alexander commander of ISS announcement
Science & Exploration

Alexander Gerst to be Space Station commander

18/05/2016 17030 views 87 likes
Open item
German President Gauck visits ESA in Darmstadt
Agency

German Head of State visits ESA Operations Centre

26/05/2014 2827 views 14 likes
Open item
HM Queen Beatrix and Italian President Napolitano at ESTEC
Agency

A royal and presidential visit to ESA’s technical heart

26/10/2012 1411 views 3 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst back on Earth
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst returns to Earth

10/11/2014 18848 views 54 likes
Open item
Science & Exploration

Alexander’s rollercoaster ride from space to Germany

06/11/2014 9296 views 66 likes
Open item
Alexander testing spacesuit
Science & Exploration

Alexander Gerst set for spacewalk

03/10/2014 9878 views 61 likes
Open item
Complete crew
Science & Exploration

Halfway through Blue Dot mission

18/09/2014 4876 views 48 likes
Open item
Our blue dot
Science & Exploration

Blue Dot update

15/07/2014 3544 views 22 likes
Open item
Moonrise from space
Science & Exploration

Spot the Space Station looking at you

01/07/2014 16830 views 77 likes
Open item
Flying over Earth
Science & Exploration

Science and spacewalks on Space Station

20/06/2014 5283 views 65 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst
Science & Exploration

Alexander’s first week in space

05/06/2014 7425 views 71 likes
Open item
Liftoff of Soyuz TMA-13M on 28 May 2014
Science & Exploration

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst arrives at Space Station

29/05/2014 6876 views 44 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst
Science & Exploration

Expedition 40 all set to go

26/05/2014 5383 views 50 likes
Open item
Columbus Control Centre
Science & Exploration

Munich to Alexander: all systems go

22/05/2014 3733 views 42 likes
Open item
Final qualification exams for the Expedition 40/41 crew
Science & Exploration

Alexander Gerst ready for orbit

09/05/2014 1700 views 18 likes
Open item
Testing Sokol suit
Science & Exploration

Ask astronaut Alexander anything

11/03/2014 3415 views 35 likes
Open item
Alexander Gerst
Science & Exploration

Inside astronaut Alexander’s head

17/02/2014 5057 views 64 likes
Open item
Blue Dot mission logo
Science & Exploration

Announcing Blue Dot mission logo

22/09/2013 8616 views 70 likes
Open item

Related Links