Crew Kicks off 2022 with Biology, Botany and Spacewalk Preps

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Clockwise from bottom, astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, Thomas Marshburn and Matthias Maurer are pictured during a playful portrait aboard the station.Clockwise from bottom, astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, Thomas Marshburn and Matthias Maurer are pictured during a playful portrait aboard the station.

The five astronauts and two cosmonauts of Expedition 66 started the first work week of 2022 researching microgravity science, reviewing Crew Dragon emergency procedures and ramping up for a spacewalk.

Biology and botany are critical research subjects on the orbiting lab as NASA and its international partners plan human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Robotics is also important as scientists and engineers explore a variety of ways to assist space crews.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari swabbed bacteria samples today and began sequencing their DNA with the BioMole Facility to understand the microbial environment on the station. Thomas Marshburn of NASA photographed operations for the Plant Habitat-05 experiment that is studying cotton genetics. Finally, NASA astronaut Kayla Barron set up an AstroBee robotic free flyer with an experimental audio sensor that may possibly identify early indications of space hardware failure.

The three NASA astronauts also joined ESA (European Space Agency) Matthias Maurer and reviewed their procedures for a variety of emergency scenarios aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The quartet trained on a computer for unlikely events such as a fire, a depressurization, and an emergency undocking in the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The station’s other NASA astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, had Monday morning off before going into the afternoon working on experimental gear that may maintain safe temperatures in U.S. spacesuits. Vande Hei, along with cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov, are due to depart the station in the spring after nearly a year in space.

The next spacewalk at the International Space Station is targeted for Jan. 19 to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Cosmonauts Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov started Monday morning inspecting the spacewalking tools they will use to configure and finish connecting Nauka to the station’s Russian segment.

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