Here’s a common question: What’s the point of having a space program? Why are we spending so much (read: so little) money on space? What do people do on the International Space Station (ISS)?
To answer these questions, we will, from time to time, post a simple article about the benefits of having a space program, and about the research that goes on aboard the ISS.
For this evening, let’s talk about cancer research.
There are hundreds of experiments going on aboard the ISS. A large portion of those experiments are biological, and some of those are specific to cancer research.
The force of gravity on Earth makes it difficult for scientists to study certain aspects of cell behavior, or in the case of cancer, cell malfunction. On-board the ISS, at near zero-gravity, scientists can observe cells in a way that was not previously possible.
For example, cells are usually grown on Earth as flat layers (2D), which is different from how they interact in real life (3D). To overcome this, there are tools on Earth that attempt to simulate micro-gravity, and they have greatly benefited cancer research, but nothing comes close to micro-gravity in space itself.
By the way, here is something not many people know: Scientists have been studying cell behavior in space for more than 30 years now, ever since the US launched their first space station, Skylab, in the 1970s. Yes, there was a space-station in orbit around Earth, from 1973 to 1979. There were 94 experiments running on Skylab back then. More on that later! 🙂
For now, have a look at the full article below, and remember – space is awesome!