The international space station is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. A hundred years ago, it was the kind of thing that would only be found in science fiction stories, but now it’s a reality. We hear it about it fairly often in the news, particularly when we send people up there, but we don’t really hear too much about what exactly it is that they do up there. There are various things that go on up there, here are a few of the more important ones.

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Water Purification

Clean drinking water is vital for our survival, unfortunately not everybody has access to it at the moment. Work that NASA is doing on the space station is going some way to change that. Technology that was initially developed for use on the space station has been taken on by international water aid agencies and redesigned for use back here on earth. It’s already in use all over the world.

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Protein Crystals

Proteins are an important part of nature, and we can use them to our advantage if we tailor them well. The best place to grow and study different proteins is in space. The low levels of gravity create the perfect environment to produce protein crystals that we can use for medical treatments in the future. One of the most recent experiments has started the preliminary steps towards an effective treatment for muscular dystrophy.

Ultrasound

One of the biggest problems that astronauts have while they are in space is the lack of space. Developments that are designed to address this issue are helping us make a big leap forward down on Earth. Lack of space means that medical equipment has to be limited and make use of space effectively. As well as being designed for future manned space missions, compact ultrasound machines that were built for use on the space station are now being used at home as well. Places that are fairly remote have a lot of issues when it comes to healthcare provision and these new technologies are helping to give people more access.

Robotics

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Even with low levels of gravity, astronauts still need a hand with the heavy lifting. Scientists have created just that, an extra hand to help them. Using revolutionary new robotics technology, this mechanical arm has been improved and adapted to many different things. The most incredible use for it so far has been performing surgery. A surgeon actually used the arm to remotely take out a tumor from somebody’s brain.

Monitoring Natural Disasters

The key to reducing the impact of natural disasters is to be prepared before they happen. Anticipating an event can help us to act quickly and save lives. The International Space Station plays a huge part in helping us to know when natural disasters are about to happen. It moves over ninety percent of the planets populated areas every day. By taking pictures, we can see whether things are about to happen. It also helps us to study these events so we can better understand how to deal with and prevent these kinds of disasters.