The International Space Station, the most impressive man-made laboratory in human history
Alexis Fecteau is a college student majoring in astrophysics, and just all astrophysics majors, he is in love with anything and everything that has to do with space exploration. And while there have been countless iconic space exploration projects and programs of extreme historical significance, Alexis believes that very few of these hold a candle to the International Space Station or the ISS.
Much has been said about the ISS as one of the greatest engineering feats in human history, on par with the greatest megastructures built by man – but not too many people know what exactly the ISS is for.
Simply put, the ISS is the most impressive man-made laboratory ever made.
In the ISS, scientists and researchers go about conducting controlled experiments in various disciplines. The facility itself contains power, digitized information, cooling, and manpower to conduct lab studies. Small unmanned spacecraft are also at the ready for experiments that require zero gravity and exposure to space. And to make things less complex, similar experiments share launch and crew times.
The researchers on the ISS, notes Alexis Fecteau, are experts in the field of astronomy, physical sciences, space weather, materials science, meteorology, astrobiology, space medicine, and life sciences.
Current technology has allowed an almost real-time link between researchers on the ISS and scientists on Earth. If additional supplies and equipment are needed to complete experiments, there are resupply crafts that are launched regularly for the ISS.
It has always been a dream of Alexis Fecteau to be part of one of the crews who go on expeditions to the ISS and live there for a few months. However, this may prove to be quite a challenge since the ISS only has a crew of six individuals who are conducting the research and maintaining the space station.
Alexis Fecteau remembers some of the most significant ISS experiments ever conducted. Of course, most notable on this growing list is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which was developed to seek out dark matter and other things that make up the known universe.
There have also been experiments that test the environment of outer space, which is extremely harmful to life. Scientists observed solar wind, cosmic rays, extreme vacuum, and microgravity.
Even the medical industry has learned a lot from experiments conducted on the ISS, Alexis Fecteau adds, as researchers found out the effects of long-term living in space, which include bone loss, fluid shift, and muscle atrophy.