ISS Current Affairs - 2020

SpaceX Crew Dragon docks with International Space Station

The Crew Dragon capsule of Space X has successfully docked with the International Space Station.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule

  • The demonstration mission is named as Demo-1.
  • It was a test mission before it can begin taking US astronauts into space.
  • After the successful docking, the crew members of International Space Station opened the hatch of the space capsule and, for the first time, penetrated its interior in space.
  • The Dragon Capsule had carried Ripley, a test dummy named after the heroine from Alien Movies, an untethered plush toy, 400 pounds (about 181 kg) of supplies and experiments to the ISS.
  • During the mission, Flight computers guided the spacecraft directly into a docking port, unlike the previous cargo Dragon spacecraft that were attached to the space station after captured by a robotic arm.

International Space Station

The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS maintains an orbit with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km (205 and 270 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres and  circles the Earth in roughly 92 minutes and completes 15.5 orbits per day

The ISS programme is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

Demo-1 was a dress rehearsal to demonstrate that the vehicle is reliable and safe so that NASA can resume manned flights from US soil this year and reduce its reliance on Russia to ferry its astronauts to the space station since the end of the US space shuttle program in 2011 after a 30-year run.

NASA Scientist for first time sequences DNA in Space

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the first time has successfully sequenced DNA in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The genome sequencing was undertaken for the first time in microgravity as part of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment performed by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.

Key Facts

  • The experiments were undertaken by using commercially available DNA sequencing device called MinION on samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA.
  • The tests were set up for selected organisms whose DNA has already been completely sequenced in an attempt to make spaceflight conditions, primarily microgravity, the only variables that could account for differences in results.
  • The technology demonstration experiments validated that the device is durable enough to withstand vibration during launch and can operate reliably in a microgravity environment.
  • Significance: This experiment provides a way to sequence DNA in space which can help astronauts to diagnose an illness.
  • Besides, it will also help them identify microbes growing in the ISS to determine whether or not they represent a health threat.
  • The future explorers can potentially use the technology to identify DNA-based life forms beyond Earth.

How MinION device works?

  • A positive current through pores embedded in membranes inside the device called nanopores for DNA sequencing.
  • Individual DNA molecules partially block the nanopores and change the current in a way is unique to that particular DNA sequence.
  • At the same time, fluid containing a DNA sample passes through the device. By looking at these changes, researchers can identify the specific DNA sequence.
For more information: DNA Sequencing