ISS Crew Safe After Early Morning Scare, Ouchless Glucose Testing, ESA Tests Reentry Technologies, Hope For Binge Eaters

Posted January 14th, 2015 at 10:00 pm (UTC-4)
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Astronauts Barry WiImore (foreground) and Terry Virts re-entered the U.S. segment wearing protective masks.  (NASA TV)

Astronauts Barry WiImore (foreground) and Terry Virts re-entered the U.S. segment wearing protective masks. (NASA TV)

Space Station Crew Safe After Dangerous Leak Scare

The six crew members aboard the International Space Station have returned to the US portion of the space station after being evacuated to the Russian Orbital Section (ROS) early this morning.

An alarm went off within the US module and flight controllers at NASA’s Mission Control in Houston noticed high pressure levels in parts of the control system that helps maintain proper temperature levels.

A little later the flight controllers also noticed a jump in cabin pressure.

The two anomalies suggested the potential of a dangerous ammonia leak so as a precaution the ISS crew was instructed to evacuate and seal themselves within the Russian segment of the space station. Non-Essential equipment inside the US module was also powered down at that time.

Before the space station residents re-entered the US module this afternoon (1/14/15), ISS crew members Terry Virts of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, wearing protective masks, took some air samples and reported that there were no signs of ammonia.

NASA is saying that “a transient error message in one of the station’s computer relay systems, called a multiplexer-demultiplexer” probably is responsible for setting of this morning’s alarm.

The relay box was turned off then back on, which cleared the error message. Flight controllers say that the relay box is now in good operating condition.

NASA says the crew is in good condition, and stresses that they were never in any danger.

 

Scientists at University of California, San Diego have tested a flexible and easy to wear device that extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells. (Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

Scientists at University of California, San Diego have tested a flexible and easy to wear device that extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells. (Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

Ouchless Glucose Testing Possible for Diabetes Patients

Hundreds of millions of people around the world who suffer with diabetes must prick their fingers with a needle or other sharp object once or several times a day to extract a drop of blood which is then used to measure their blood glucose levels.

Medical experts say that rather than putting up with the pain and aggravation of the finger prick, a number of diabetes patients tend to skip these needed tests that help them manage their illness.

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego,writing in the American Chemical Society’s journal “Analytical Chemistry”, say that they’ve come up with a new way to test those blood glucose levels without the pain and inconveniences of those finger pricks.

The researchers say that a person’s glucose levels can be measured by their new flexible and ultra-thin device that applied to their skin like a rub-on tattoo.

The rub-on tattoo device is able to detect glucose in fluid that’s just under the skin.

After putting their new tool through some preliminary tests on seven healthy volunteer subjects, the researchers say that it was able to accurately determine the volunteer’s glucose levels.

 

In this October 27, 2014 photo, a technician checks ESA's IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle that's being prepared for launch on 2/11/15 ((c) ESA)

In this October 27, 2014 photo, a technician checks ESA’s IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle that’s being prepared for launch on 2/11/15 ((c) ESA)

ESA will Launch Space Plane to Test New Re-entry Technologies

The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to send its Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, (IXV), into suborbital space on 2/11/15 so that it can check out some re-entry devices that could be used on the space agency’s spacecraft of the future.

ESA says that the automobile-sized, un-manned experimental space plane will be sent up into space aboard one of its Vega rockets. The launch was originally scheduled for 10/23/14, but was scrubbed due to various safety concerns.

The space agency is using the mission to gather some important flight data so that it can develop systems and technology that will be needed for its transportation systems of the future.

The mission is expected to last a total of about 100 minutes.

The IXV space plane will be released by the Vega rocket at an altitude of about 320 km.  It will then coast in suborbital space for about 420 km before it is set to begin the re-entry phase of its mission.

As it goes through this re-entry procedure, various sensors and advance instruments will gather an extensive amount of valuable data before the vehicle splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

Lots of food! (Dennis Yang/Creative Commons via Fllickr)

Lots of food! (Dennis Yang/Creative Commons via Fllickr)

New Hope for Those Suffering from Binge Eating Disorder

A new study just published in the journal “JAMA Psychiatry” suggests the effectiveness of a drug called lisdexamfetamine dimesylate is effective at reducing the uncontrollable desire to eat   — something doctors call Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

The medication has already been approved to treat patients with attention-deficit disorder/attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD).

Someone with Binge Eating Disorder is prone to frequently and uncontrollably eat unusually large amounts of food.  Those with B-E-D usually feel as if they are out of control and powerless to stop eating.

The researchers conducted randomized clinical trials with adults suffering from the disorder. What they found is those given higher doses of the medication were less likely to engage in binge eating that those who took placebos.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) estimates between 1-5% of the general population suffers from Binge Eating Disorder and that it tends to affect women more than men.

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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