SpaceX has launched its 25th cargo mission to the International Space Station. Here’s what’s on board.

SpaceX launched its 25th cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) Thursday, July 14, carrying more than 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms) of supplies, as well as hardware for NASA climate change to research.

The resupply mission, named CRS-25, lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. After just 2.5 minutes of flight, the rocket’s first stage detached , making a safe, vertical landing five minutes later on SpaceX’s drone “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket’s second stage continued upward into orbit, propelling itself and the uncrewed Dragon resupply craft mounted on its nose.

The Dragon craft is expected to slowly catch up with the ISS and reach it Saturday morning (July 16) around 11:20 a.m. EDT. After Dragon docks with the orbiting lab, astronauts will unload the capsule’s payload, which includes fresh food and supplies, as well as science equipment for the ISS’s dozens of active science investigations. .

One of the largest and most important deliveries of the mission is equipment for the investigation of sources of mineral dust on the Earth’s surface (EMIT). Once fixed outside the ISS, this experiment will scan Earth study how dust from arid regions travels on the winds and affects the climate. (Scientists still don’t know if mineral dust has a global warming or cooling effect.)

Related: Here’s Every Spacecraft That’s Ever Carried an Astronaut Into Orbit

“Understanding the composition of dust is key to understanding warming versus cooling and by how much, regionally and globally,” said Roger Clark, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and co -researcher at EMIT. assignment, said in a press release. “Depending on the composition of the dust, it can cool or warm the planet. Dark dust, including dust containing iron oxides, can cause warming, while light dust can cause cooling. Dust also plays a role in ecosystems and human health.”

Despite the importance of dust in climate models, it has remained understudied.

“Currently, climate change dust impacts are based on about 5,000 soil samples for the entire Earth,” Clark said. “EMIT will collect over a billion usable measurements for arid regions of the world.”

EMIT can accurately measure the content of Earth’s dust from space using a technique called imaging spectrometry, in which light is separated into distinct wavelengths ranging from ultraviolet to infrared. Since some minerals inside dust clouds only reflect certain wavelengths, EMIT can identify the composition of dust clouds by breaking them down into 288 possible colors. After this identification, the spectrometer will use unique software to map the detected materials to their locations around the world.

The launch of the CRS-25 has been a long time coming. Originally scheduled to take off more than a month ago, the mission was delayed three times after engineers discovered potentially dangerous levels of corrosive hydrazine vapor – a fuel used in Dragon’s Draco thrusters – in the system of propelling the machine. NASA and SpaceX technicians thoroughly inspected the rocket before finally giving it the green light.

Further experiments on their way to the ISS will examine the effects of aging on cell repair and investigate whether these effects can be reversed in astronauts after they return to Earth, as well as investigate the viability of making concrete from of materials found on the low gravity environments of the moon and March.

Originally posted on Live Science.

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