A successful cargo mission has today (17 April) resupplied the International Space Station (ISS), readying the crew for a number of science missions, including a study of changes to the vision of astronauts in space.
The Dragon spacecraft, from commercial company SpaceX, launched on Wednesday (14 April) carrying a number of scientific payloads. It docked with the space station today just before 7am EST (12pm GMT).
Included in the cargo is equipment needed for the year-long Fluid Shifts study, which will evaluate the impact of redistribution of bodily fluids in the microgravity environment.
The study was designed after space agencies recorded vision changes in crew members returning from extended space flight. The changes, which include scotomas, optic disc oedemas and cotton wool spots, are believed to be due to increased pressure in the skull and optic sheath, caused by a shift in fluid from the body to the head under reduced gravity conditions.
Over the next 12 months, crew members will carry out a regular battery of tests, including tonometry and ultrasound, to monitor changes caused by fluid shift. In 2013, a Hedielberg Spectralis was delivered to the Space Station, so additional high resolution OCT imaging will form part of the study.
In March, the Russian and American space agencies sent crew members to the embark on a year-long space flight. American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, will live and work aboard the ISS for the next 12 months, taking part in a number of experiments, including the Fluid Shifts study.
Image credit: NASA/Expedition 31