Today in the NASA Village… Environmental Monitoring: How Clean is it?
So, the International Space Station has been operating for 16
years now. Do you wonder how clean is
the air astronauts breathe or the surfaces that the astronauts touch each
day? Are there hazardous levels of
bacteria or other toxic components in the drinking water supply? Obviously on this (18+ year) long duration
endeavor, we have to monitor the air quality, the microbial content of the air,
surfaces, and water, the sound levels we are experiencing, and the radiation
doses that we are being exposed to.
These data are not only critical for safety of the astronauts while on
board, but for long term occupational health monitoring. Future deep space explorers will benefit from
lessons we are learning now.
Needless to say, there are some specialized pieces of
hardware that we have to know how to operate in order to perform this
environmental monitoring. Elisca Hicks
first joined NASA by working in the Education and Outreach Program. She later
transitioned to the Space Medicine Training team in 2005. Elisca
currently has a dual role in the Space Medicine Training Team. She is an instructor, she teaches the
environmental monitoring hardware to Space Station crew members, but she also
coordinates multiple medical student and doctor programs at Johnson Space
media slide containing mold is what Elisca teaches us to use. This helps us
identify if there are issues or areas that need our additional attention.
picture shows mold found growing on a kit that was being used in an experiment.
Inside the kit were tubes that contained a swab and liquid in them. The tubes
were damaged (cracked lids) and they leaked, causing the mold to grow on the
Elisca is showing me how to place the media tray in the microbial air
Consider that the lack of gravity means that dust does not collect just on
the upper surfaces, but on all the surfaces.
The ventilation system moves a lot of the debris to the filters, but
electrostatic forces result in the potential for debris to collect pretty much
anywhere. The worst air quality can be
seen when the callouses of the crew members feet begin to come off about month
2. Remember, we are not using the
bottoms of our feet for walking, so we actually get callouses on the tops of
our toes from sliding them under handrails!
Next time on the NASA Village… You Need to Experience It.
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stories? Find our NASA Villagers here!
Maeve woke to the steady chirping of medical instruments, and for a moment, hazy, she could almost mistake them for birdsong. But it had been a long time since she had heard live birds instead of holo recordings. Groaning, she reached up to feel for the injury the damn elf had given to her face, the other hand gripping the railing of the medbay bed to pull herself up and sit.
The beeps turned to shrill alarms as wires disconnected from her hand and pulled free from the sticky pads stuck to her chest. Frowning, Maeve pulled the rest free and swung her legs down from the bed. She was still staring at the clothes that someone had changed her into when the door opened and an short woman strode in. Fluffy hair bounced against her cheeks with each step, almost hiding the dark circles under the magi’s hair.
“You should be resting,” the woman said waving her hands at Maeve with a slight ‘shooing’ motion, The energy backlash nearly killed you when you…” she paused, lips pressing together. “Did whatever you did to stop the breach from growing.”
Maeve looked over at the other beds shoved into the small room. The Elf was still knocked out in one, though she showed signs of stirring, her hand drifting up to press against her ribs. Good, Maeve thought a bit bitterly. She hoped it still hurt, the fact that the elf had gotten her with her guard down still rankled. The other two beds held soldiers who suffered far worse injuries, and were notably lacking limbs. Both appeared to be in a state of coma, based on the long pauses between the beeps of their heart monitors.
“I’m fine,” she said, looking at the woman, then squinted slightly. Why was this mage in Templar-armor? “What was your name?” Maeve asked the woman. “I’m Maeve, Maeve Trevelyan.”
“Haylan, just Haylan. And you might feel fine but you should be resting. We’re not sure what-“ but Maeve was already on her feet, wobbling for a moment before pulling herself straight and smoothing down the taupe flightsuit she now found herself in.
Maeve closed her eyes for a moment, muttering a small prayer to the maker, or whatever gods may exist, that the elf would go back to sleep.
“Haylan,” the fluffy mage corrected, glancing over at the groggy woman. Of the two she’d been slightly more injured, though the broken rib had been mended with Haylan’s help, the internal bruising was significant. It was a wonder either of the two survivors were awake.
“Hay-land,” Milliara groaned, “Agrarian. Gotch- gotcha,” Milliara grunted, having pushed herself up to sit, arm wrapped around her injured side. The glowing ink on the woman’s face dimmed for a moment, before resuming its faint shimmering pulse.
“Well,” Maeve said, glaring at the smaller survivor, who was now plucking wires off her lilac skin. “I’m not staying around here now she’s awake. Do you know where I can find the Seeker Pentaghast, Haylan?” she asked looking back to the Healer who dipped her head in reply.
“Last I saw she was discussing something with Commander Rutherford,” Haylan said, and Maeve noticed a slight pause at that name. Odd. “She did say she wanted to speak with both of you once you were awake. I can… I can show you where they are if you’d like,” Haylan offered, glancing between the two women. “Since you were both unconscious when they brought you in here.”
Maeve tamped down on the annoyance of having to spend more time near the elf. The only proximity Maeve wanted to have with Milliara was Maeve’s fist in the elf’s face, but the sooner they met with the Seeker, the sooner that particular proximity might occur. That, more than anything, helped Maeve focus on the task at hand rather than the lingering bitterness of being caught off guard back in the temple. Although watching the elf fight at the Breach, Maeve grudgingly admitted they were evenly matched in skill, though Milliara was too rash, too reckless. Maybe it’d get the elf killed and oh no wouldn’t that be terrible.
“Alright,” Maeve said. “Lead the way.”
As the doors hissed open, two guards who had been standing by the door turned around and snapped to attention, heads bowed, fist to chest in a salute. Maeve paused, eying the soldiers then looking at Haylan who just shrugged. Whispers travelled down the crowded hall though Maeve could only pick up a few words.
“They saved us.”
Stepping out of the room, Maeve saw that the halls were lined with soldiers and civilians alike, each with their fist pressed to their chest.
It’s been 97 years since a nuclear apocalypse killed everyone on earth. Having operational space stations allowed for survivors but now there’s only the Ark. On the Ark, every crime is punishable by death unless the perpetrator is under 18 in which event they are kept in Lock-Up. Jemma’s crime is knowing something that she shouldn’t. Skye’s is existing.
Along with stowaway Grant Ward, Skye’s adoptive brother, the 100 juvenile offenders, considered expendable, are sent to Earth to see if humans can reestablish themselves. What they find isn’t what they expected.