NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan’s Scientific Journeys aboard the Space Station

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir wrapped up their stay aboard the International Space Station. They returned to Earth along with their Russian colleague, cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, via a parachute-aided touchdown on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 1:16 a.m. EDT (0516 GMT; 11:16 a.m. local time in Kazakhstan).

During Morgan’s 274 days and Meir’s 207 days in space, the pair contributed to hundreds of scientific experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory. Before they come home, let us look back at their research-filled stay in microgravity.

July 20, 2019: The journey begins

Morgan launched on the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship along with Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos to the station on the 50th anniversary of NASA’s first landing on the Moon. 

astronaut andrew morgan in a space suit
soyuz spacecraft in orbit

July 29, 2019: Getting a grip

Soon after arriving to the space station, Morgan began working on research. One of the first investigations he worked on was the GRIP study. The experiment, sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency), observes how microgravity affects the abilities of astronauts to regulate grip force and upper limb trajectories when manipulating objects during a variety of movements.

astronaut andrew morgan working inside the space station

August 5, 2019: Putting organ printing to the test

The BioFabrication Facility is researching whether the weightless environment of space may support the future fabrication of human organs. Morgan set up the device to begin test-printing tissues. He worked on this facility many times during his stay on station.

astronaut andrew morgan setting up equipment inside the space station

August 9, 2019: Satellites on station

Morgan continued the SPHERES experiment that has been going on aboard station for more than a decade. Here he monitors a pair of small, free-floating satellites known as SPHERES, or Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites. Middle and high school students compete to design algorithms that autonomously control the basketball-sized SPHERES satellites aboard the station.

astronaut andrew morgan with the SPHERES satellites inside the space station

September 13, 2019: Crystal clear

Morgan conducted research for the Microgravity Crystals investigation that crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Results may support the development of cancer treatments that target the protein more effectively and with fewer side effects. Morgan is pictured setting up protein crystal samples for observing and photographing inside a microscope.

astronaut andrew morgan running science experiments inside the space station

September 19, 2019: Keeping things cool

Morgan worked with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch to stow biological research samples into a science freezer. Some scientific samples need to be stored in cold facilities such as the General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator (GLACIER) to preserve the data produced in space for researchers to analyze on Earth.

astaonauts andrew morgan and christina koch prepping samples for cold stowage

September 25, 2019: Meir joins the crew

The space station gained three new residents. The Soyuz MS-15 crew ship carried Meir, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, into space after launching from Kazakhstan. The Soyuz would dock a few hours later to the space station, where Meir would become the fourth member of the NASA Astronaut Class of 2013 aboard.

earth's horizon
from left to right, astronauts Nick Hague, Drew Morgan, Christina Koch, and Jessica Meir

October 16, 2019: Looking back at Earth

The second-largest mountain lake in the world, Issyk-Kul Lake, in the central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, is pictured surrounded by the snow-capped Tian Shen mountains in this image taken from the space station while it orbited 252 miles above southeastern Kazakhstan. Crew Earth Observations record how the planet is changing over time, from human-caused changes, such as urban growth and reservoir construction, to natural dynamic events, such as hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions.

snowy mountain tops as seen from space

October 24, 2019: Bringing the heat

One of the jobs of the space station crew is to run and maintain the science hardware. Meir worked on the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), a facility in which combustion experiments can be performed in microgravity. The CIR, along with facilities such as the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), create a secure and safe environment in which to study flames without putting the crew in danger.

astronaut Jessica Meir at work inside the space station

October 27, 2019: It’s easy being green

For multiple months while Meir and Morgan were living in space, they shared the station with a different type of living thing: Mizuna mustard greens. The pair, along with their crew mates, helped water and care for the plants as a part of the Veg-04B experiment. This investigation is part of a phased research project to address the need for a continuous fresh food production system in space and focuses on the effects of light quality and fertilizer on a leafy crop.

astronaut Jessica Meir tending to plants inside the space station
astronauts andrew morgan and jessica meir inside the space station

November 4, 2019: Cygnus arrives

Koch, Meir and Morgan peered through the space station’s “window to the world,” the cupola, while on robotics duty monitoring the arrival and capture of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter. Cygnus carried new research and supplies to the station on the company’s 12th commercial resupply servicing mission to the station.

astronauts christina koch, jessica meir, and andrew morgan seen through the cupola window

November 2019-January 2020: Fixing AMS

Morgan, along with Parmitano, successfully completed a series of four challenging spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). AMS has provided hundreds of researchers around the globe with data that can help piece together the puzzle of what the universe is made of and how it began.

view of earth from a space walk
andrew morgan during a space walk

November 26, 2019: Science in the glovebox

Meir and Morgan worked together on research operations inside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG). They were studying mice for the Rodent Research-14 investigation, which observes how microgravity affects the body on a cellular and organ level.

astronauts andrew morgan and jessica meir at work inside the space station

December 9, 2019: Preventing bone and muscle loss

Meir installed the Bone Densitometer in an EXPRESS (EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station) rack. The Bone Densitometer enables the imaging of rodent bones for the Rodent Research-19 experiment that investigated proteins that may prevent muscle and bone loss in space.

astronaut jessica meir inside the space station

December 9, 2019: A check up

Medical checks are an important part of ensuring astronauts stay healthy, and for collecting data for a number of investigations such as spaceflight standard measures. Here Morgan is floating with a stethoscope for medical checks inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module after an exercise session.

astronaut andrew morgan floating inside the space station

February 2020: A closer look at bones

Both Morgan and Meir worked on the OsteoOmics study in February. The goal of the experiment is to compare bone cells in space with samples on Earth that are levitated magnetically.

astronaut jessica meir working on sience inside the space station
astronaut andrew morgan using the glovebox inside the space station

February 16, 2020: Creating disorder

Meir configures the Light Microscopy Module (LMM) for the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-4 (ACE-T-4) study. Introducing disorder to a crystalline system in a controlled way can form glass. ACE-T-4 examines the transition of an ordered crystal to a disordered glass to determine how increasing disorder affects its properties.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir configures the Light Microscopy Module

March 5, 2020: A picture of our planet

Looking back at our planet is a favorite pastime of many astronauts. Morgan took many photos of our Earth during his time in space. Some were taken out of this Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), which can house Earth science remote sensing instruments and is a perfect spot for taking Earth observation photos.

astronaut andrew morgan taking pictures from inside of the space station

March 13, 2020: Treating cardiac abnormalities

Meir and Morgan helped set up the MVP Cell-03 investigation that induces stem cells to generate heart precursor cells. Those cells are then cultured on the space station to analyze and compare with cultures grown on Earth. Results may help treat spaceflight-induced cardiac abnormalities and contribute to accelerated development and reduced cost of drug therapies on Earth.

astronaut jessica meir working inside a glove bag
astronaut andrew morgan working inside a glove bag

March 25, 2020: A scientific echo

The walls of some blood vessels become thicker and stiffer in space. To better understand the effects of spaceflight, Meir uses an ultrasound to monitor her blood vessels as a part of the Vascular Echo experiment.

astronaut jessica meir using ultrasound equipment

April 3, 2020: Returning research

Meir gathers frozen research samples stowed in a space station science freezer before loading them into a SpaceX Dragon resupply ship to return to Earth for analysis.

astronaut jessica meir working with cold stowage inside the space station

Although Morgan and Meir’s chapter of research aboard the orbiting laboratory ends with their return to Earth on April 17, their participation in human research continues as scientists monitor their bodies’ acclimation back to gravity for months – or even years – after their landing. Science aboard the space station also continues. Innovative investigations that seek to benefit humans on Earth and further our exploration of the solar system are ongoing. Follow @ISS_Research to keep up with the science happening aboard your orbiting laboratory.

Erin Winick

International Space Station Program Research Office

Johnson Space CenterLast Updated: April 14, 2020Editor: Michael Johnson

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