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What use are Samantha Cristoforetti’s experiments

Samantha Cristoforetti is back on Earth with the results of some experiments that could have positive repercussions on our daily lives. What are they?

On board of the Soyuz space capsule, landed yesterday at 15:44 on the Kazakhstan steppe, there was the first Italian female astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti, who broke the record of Sunita Williams for being in space 200 days – 4 more than the above mentioned American fellow astronaut.

 

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We have learnt to know AstroSamantha, as she nicknamed herself on Twitter, thorugh her posts on the social media and the platform Avamposto 42; we have seen her at the Sanremo Festival and we have heard her singing to support the UNICEF. But why did she go to the outer space? Following, the experiments she participated in, which could have a repercussion on our everyday life.

 

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Muscles and bones

A number of experiments concern the musculoskeletal system, which is really tested during a trip to outer space. Cell Shape and Expression aimed to assess the changes in bone cells and we hope it may help to treat pathologies such as osteoporosis. Nanoparticles and Osteoporosis was an experiment on the remodeling of bone tissue. Bone/Muscle Check tests crewmembers’ saliva before, during and after spaceflight to study whether saliva tests can serve as reliable health monitors of bone and muscle metabolism. In this case, it could be a new diagnostic method useful for very young patients to whom it is not possible to draw blood.

 

Brain

Blind and Imagined deals with the brain as it tests the ability of body movement and adjustment to microgravity conditions through simple exercises sometimes made with eyes closed, such as throwing a ball. The results could help the astronauts in long-lasting missions to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal deconditioning. On Earth, it will help neurologists study the motor changes that take place in different environments. Drain Brain uses a portable Plethysmograph, realised by the University of Ferrara, to study blood flow through the veins in the brain. We hope that this experiment could be useful to treat and monitor brain diseases. 

 

Sleep

The quality of sleep in microgravity conditions is reduced; Wearable monitoring used a new cloth to monitor Samantha’s sleep-wake cycles. Objective: discover more about sleep disorders on Earth.

 

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Coffee

The first espresso prepared by Samantha Cristoforetti in zero-gravity was much talked about. ISSpresso was the first espresso maker using capsules in zero-gravity: this device could give technical and psychological support to astronauts in the next long-lasting missions.

 

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