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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Saudi Space Commission (SSC) has revealed the scientific tasks and investigations that will be carried out during the voyage of Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Alqarni within the framework of the mission to the International Space Station (ISS), during the second quarter of the current year.

The SSC announced that the two astronauts will carry out 11 pioneering scientific research experiments in microgravity during the flight. Its results will strengthen the Kingdom’s worldwide position in the field of space exploration and service to humanity. It will also confirm the role of Saudi research centers in achieving a scientific impact in this field.

The SSC noted that Saudi experiments in space range from human research and cellular science to artificial rain in microgravity. The SSC also noted that in the artificial rain experiment, which will condense water vapor into plankton and salt atoms in microgravity simulating the cloud seeding process used in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and many other countries to increase rainfall rates. Led by Dr. Ashraf Farahat, this experiment is for King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and will help scientists and researchers devise new ways to provide suitable conditions for humans – including artificial rain labor – to live in colonies spacecraft on the surface of the Moon and Mars. The experiment will also contribute to improving researchers’ knowledge of rain seeding technology, which will help increase rainfall in many countries, God willing.

To better understand the impact of time in space on human health, the Saudi company Nebula Research and Development, led by Dr. Bader Shirah, is conducting six experiments aboard the ISS, which will be carried out by astronauts. These experiments will use novel neuroscientific tools, such as measuring blood flow to the brain and electrical activity in the brain, assessing intracranial pressure by non-invasive assessment of the pupil of the eye, and monitoring changes in the optic nerve over time. over time. Improved neurological health surveillance may contribute to making spaceflight safer in the future and enable the development of rapid and non-invasive surveillance, as well as early interventions and the development of countermeasures. Blood and biological samples will also be taken to examine spaceflight-related multiomic biomarkers and map changes in chromosome and telomere length, structure, and epigenetics.

Cell science experiments led by the world-renowned King Faisal Specialized Hospital and Research Center (KFSHRC) and their team of scientists, Drs Khalid Abu Khabar, Wijdan Alahmadi and Edward Hitti, will investigate the inflammatory response of human immune cells in microgravity. . More specifically, her research will focus on changes in mRNA breakdown, a process that can turn off inflammation. Furthermore, the response to therapy will be mimicked using the same cell model. The crew will take RNA samples for analysis on the ground, where researchers will monitor RNA expression patterns and, with great excitement, thousands of mRNA half-lives will be measured. The results are expected to contribute to a better understanding of space health and uncover potential biomarkers or therapies for inflammatory diseases both in space and on Earth.

In addition to these experiments, three educational awareness experiments will be carried out on board the ISS in real time with students from all over Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Mawhiba, Riyadh and Misk schools. The objective of these experiments is to broaden the students’ knowledge of space science and their contribution to improving the quality of life on Earth, juxtaposing their terrestrial experiments with those carried out in real time by the Saudi crew on board the ISS. . Students can see firsthand how the experiment environment can have a real effect on the results. This real-time interaction ensures that the students will have access to the Saudi crew live as they conduct their experiments together, one on Earth and one in space simultaneously.

The efforts of the SSC are intended to prepare future astronauts and engineers through quality educational and training programs, participation in scientific experiments, international research and future space-related missions, all of which will contribute to raising the status of of the Kingdom and to achieve the objectives of the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom.

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