On Dec. 29, NASA uploaded a video that features the ISS astronauts sharing their favorite New Year’s Day traditions. Currently, there are four of them aboard, namely Kanai, Tingle, Joe Acaba, and Mark Vande Hei.
Norishige Kanai of JAXA and Scott Tingle of NASA closed the year working on studies that would allow humans to stay longer on space missions outside of the low-Earth orbit. They began wrapping up their research upon the departure of Progress 67, an unpiloted Russian spacecraft that delivered over three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station on June 14.
Meanwhile, Tingle was capping off sample collection for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05. He harvested plants grown on the ISS and stored the samples in a specialized freezer for analysis. By observing changes in the plant’s molecules and genes, this study is anticipated to show how plants are affected by microgravity.
NASA reports that on the last work week of 2017, Kanai was completing a study on physical exertion in outer space. He used the station’s exercise bike to measure his own breathing and other parameters. His findings are expected to help mission doctors in ensuring that astronauts are strong enough to perform physically demanding activities like spacewalks.
“In Japan, in the morning on New Year’s Day, people go out and watch the first sunlight. I have a memory with my father of walking in a very, very cold early morning in Tokyo to watch the first sunrise,” says Kanai in the footage.
The astronauts, together with their two Russian crewmates, are to experience New Year’s Eve across 16 times as the ISS completes one revolution around the Earth every 90 minutes.
In anticipation of New Year’s Day 2018, the astronauts of Expedition 54 have spent the last workdays of the year orbiting the Earth and finishing up research work on life sciences.