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Basic Training Report, December 1999

In December, the astronaut candidates (ASCANs) received lectures and hands-on training to acquire knowledge and skills needed for medical and life science experiments to be conducted aboard the ISS.
Here is a report of part of the space medicine and life science hands on training.

Space medicine hands-on training "Physiological reaction during exercise"
ASCAN Hoshide on an ergometer.
Physical tests are planned to be conducted once a month on orbit to check the crew's physical condition such as lung and heart functions. For example, oxygen consumption level is measured from the crew's breath while he/she exercises on an ergometer. The ASCANs learned how to operate the equipment, the correct method for measurement, and how to interpret the data.

Space medicine hands-on training "Vestibular nerve system"
Many astronauts experience spacial disorientation several minutes to several days after they enter a microgravity environment, sometimes causing nausea and vomiting. On the Earth, we acquire body position or movement information from three kinds of sensor organs. One is visual information. The second information is from the vestibular organ which is located in the inner ear. This information enables us to sense rotation, gravity and acceleration. The third information is deep sensibility sensed by an organ in muscles. This information enables us to feel muscle tension or pressure applied to it and helps us judge our physical situation. Using the data from these 3 sensors we can judge our physical position and situation. However, since there is no gravity in space, different information is inputted to the brain, causing confusion. This is thought to be the most probable cause of spacial disorientation.

In Tsukuba Space Center, devices a horizontal rotating chair, a pendulum chair, or linear lab sled were employed to evaluate vestibular nerve system functions and to investigate the causes of spacial disorientation and countermeasures for it.

Life science hands on training "Nuclear acid analysis"
Life science hands-on training was conducted to learn general experiment techniques necessary for life science experiments performed on the ISS. During this nuclear acid analysis hands-on training, the ASCANs learned four basic genetic engineering techniques, extracting nucleic acid from blood and cells, reverse transcription reaction which creates DNA from RNA, PCR which increases the target DNA, and nucleic acid electrophoresis.
From left ASCAN Furukawa, Hoshide and Sumino
ASCAN Furukawa perform nucleic-acid extraction

@The next basic training report will be issued in early February.

Last Updated : January 14, 2000

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