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Skin B - Skin Physiological Changes During Long Duration Space Flight (Skin_B)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Clinical medicine
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The Skin B experiment is the combination of two selected experiments, "Validation of Skin Physiological Changes in Space and Skin as a Model for Other Body Systems" and "In vivo Biomechanical Measurements of Human Skin Properties under Accelerated Aging Conditions during ISS Mission". This experiment also complements the scientific data collected during the Astrolab mission in 2006 and the experiment "Skin Care" data. This experiment is jointly supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology, the German Aerospace Centre DLR, and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The two main objectives of this study are:

  • to increase the knowledge of skin physiology and the skin “aging” process in microgravity, and
  • to use those parameters in a skin mathematical model.

It is well-known that weightlessness compromises the whole biological network of the osseous and muscular supporting system or the cardiovascular and vestibular system. Along with side effects in these systems, skin impairments belong to the most frequent medical events during Space Missions. This suggests that also cells of the skin employ molecules and pathways dependent on gravity. For example, it has been shown that cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in melanocytes, the pigment cells of the epidermis, is sensitive to gravitational forces. Among other functions cyclic GMP does not only regulate the programmed cell death (apoptosis) but also leads to activation of protein kinases which in turn trigger specific pathways in the cell. This implies global changes of the cells.

General advantages of the skin for investigations:

  • skin is easily accessible and can be continuously examined by means of a large number of non-invasive test methods
  • the large surface area allows comparative examinations due to its constitution made out of two blastodermic layers, the ectoderm and the mesoderm, the skin integrates a multitude of tasks and functions (i.e. immunological organ) and acts as a “mirror” of the physical and mental health status
  • in relation to the last-mentioned point skin may be utilized as an early recognition system for pathologic changes of the body.

A pilot study investigated possible changes in skin parameters during space flight, such as hydration, barrier function and skin topography and additional dermal parameters such as elasticity and the skin density were recorded pre- and postflight. To confirm the preliminary observations and study their variation, it is planned to repeat this study with additional crewmembers. It is planned to use similar technologies as during the initial experiment and to add some additional tests during pre and post flight examinations.

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Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in progress. Data is not yet available for this experiment.

Blood flow velocity
Hydration levels
Morphology of upper dermis
Oxygen saturation
Relative hemoglobin amount
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 36 05/13/2013 09/10/2013 166 days
Expedition 37 09/10/2013 11/10/2013 61 days
Expedition 38 11/10/2013 03/10/2014 120 days
Expedition 39 03/10/2014 05/13/2014 64 days
Expedition 40 05/13/2014 09/10/2014 133 days
Expedition 41 09/10/2014 11/09/2014 29 days
Expedition 42 11/10/2014 03/11/2015 121 days
Expedition 43 03/11/2015 06/10/2015 91 days
Expedition 46 12/11/2015 03/02/2016 82 days
Expedition 47 03/02/2016 06/18/2016 108 days
Expedition 48 06/18/2016 09/06/2016 80 days
Expedition 49 09/06/2016 10/30/2016 54 days
Expedition 50 10/28/2016 04/09/2017 164 days
Expedition 51 04/09/2017 06/02/2017 55 days

Additional Information
Other Key People
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
European Space Agency (ESA)
Deutsche Agentur fur Raumfahrt- Angelegenheiten (DARA)
Proposal Source
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