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Small robots, carrying technology and more strange science will begin at the space station on Wednesday

Tomorrow (April 17), the Antares rocket from North Groman will launch Swan Space Flight to the space station, carrying supplies, and a set of strange and innovative experiments that could support future missions in space.

Among them will be two different small robots that will train astronauts to help maintain the space station; a study that will assess the health of astronauts on the arteries using wearable; and a test for a new method for removing carbon dioxide from the air on the board of the space station, according to a statement from NASA.

At 04:46 but. EDT (2046 GMT) on Wednesday, April 17, Signus NG-11 is scheduled to launch an Antares rocket from the 0A sub-base in the Middle Atlantic Regional Space Depot NASA Aerospace Facility on the Walps Island in Virginia. The cargo delivery mission will send scientific experiments along with the procurement of the crew of the space station. This will be the 11th (and last) mission of Cygnus under the Northrop Grumman CRS-1 commercial agreement with NASA – new agreement, CRS-2, should begin in autumn. You can see the launch online here at, thanks to NASA.

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Swan Space Flight recently added ability to load certain experiments just 24 hours before starting. Previously, all cargo and scientific experiments had to be loaded into a craft four days before the launch, but this change would allow experiments with time sensitivity to be closer to the launch time.

One of the experiments, called Vascular aging, will explore data suggesting that certain aspects of aging, related to the circulatory system of blood through the body, can be accelerated by time spent in space. The aging of the arteries is associated with cardiovascular health, insulin resistance, and more. In this experiment, space station crew members will be subjected to ultrasound of arteries, blood samples, and oral tolerant glucose tests that will assess overall health and arterial health and will identify any insulin resistance. They will also use sensors that can be worn to monitor changes in their physical fitness.

According to Richard Hewson, chief researcher at the Schlegel University of Waterloo, Canada, the astronauts will carry sensors for 72 hours while on the space station. Because the carrier can record levels of activity, it will help the team to study the relationship between levels of activity and insulin resistance, said Hewson during a press conference on April 10th.

Hewson, discussing the importance of this study, said that "in the short term, it probably is not too significant for astronauts." But, he explained, "in the long run, it could be very important." Astronauts spend a relatively short period of time on the space station, but for the future, longer missions, the health of astronauts – including vascular aging and insulin resistance, which this study also examines – could become a bigger problem.

The Canadian space agency bioassay analyzer, which is the size of a video game console, will test body fluids such as blood, saliva and urine.

(Image: © CSA)

Another experiment referring to the space station will be used Bio-analyst, an instrument of the Canadian space agency that detects and quantifies the number of blood cells and the concentration of dissolved molecules in liquids such as blood or urine. What's unique about this technology is that it can work with just a few drops of fluid. So, instead of freezing and storing large samples of blood, sputum or urine, which occupy space, weight and energy – all the precious resources of a space station – data can be collected only with a finger.

The swan also brings Robot search robotic outdoor cubic inspection robot robots at the space station this week. The small robot, the breadth of bread, will use nitrogen cold-throtters to freely fly around the space station either in fully automated mode or controlled from a distance. When things go wrong, the little robot can go outside the space station, fly around and check any possible damage.

The researcher still has a long way to go before being perfected, but one day can be a great help for space astronauts, the scientists said at the press conference. When astronauts, or their teams back on Earth, realize that something on the outer side of the space station needs to be fixed, they usually plan a space space in which astronauts go out and work on the problem.

Spacecraft takes a significant amount of planning, time, and coordination, and they are inherently risky. If a small robot could first go out and take pictures of this question with a 13 megapixel camera that could be analyzed by the team on Earth, it will save astronauts a ton of time and reduce the risk. "Going outside just to make inspections is time-consuming and dangerous. Especially when you check it is something you do not want your astronauts to enter," Seeker Project Seeker Brian Banker said in a news conference.

The applicant was designed "almost like a fire extinguisher," said Banker. When there is a problem, astronauts will deploy the craft, investigate the problem, and then fly and burn in the orbit of the Earth.

Astrobee Free Flight Robot.

(Image: © NASA)

Another small robot, Astroby, will head to the space station this week. As the Navigator, Astrobi, the successor to a successful robot of SPHERES, will help maintain the space station. But while the drawer will only fly around the exterior of the craft, will make pictures of problems and then burn in the atmosphere of the Earth, Astrobee will be useful in the space station.

The little cube robot will fly freely around the station, helping astronauts with maintenance and "space work" and freeing their time for research. The Astrobee robot is powered by fans and uses navigation-based vision.

In another investigation, researchers hope to improve methods for removing carbon dioxide from the air at the space station. Thermal amine cleaner technology will test a method that uses heated and cooled amine beds – an amine is an organic compound derived from ammonia. The system is designed to remove carbon dioxide, reduce the loss of water vapor on the board, and recover carbon dioxide from electrolysis to create oxygen.

The carbon dioxide levels are about 10 times higher than the space station on Earth, said John Gar, a researcher for the International Space Station Research Support System at a press conference.

"We have learned over time that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can potentially affect crew performance and quality of life," said Laura Shaw, the International Space Station Program leading to research systems for life research. Exposure to carbon dioxide exposure can cause fatigue, headaches, breathing problems, strained eyes, and itching of the skin. Over time, these symptoms can cause discomfort to the astronauts of the space station. Future long-term missions on the moon or on Mars will require improved life support systems, or astronauts will be at risk of these symptoms, researchers say.

You can see the cargo of the Lebedian ship in Wednesday, April 17, at 16:15 hours. EDT (2015). It will be lifelong at 4:46 am. EDT (2046 GMT).

Follow Chelsea Goh on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on, Facebook

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