NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 May, 2021 - Botany Research


Astronaut Megan McArthur works in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. (Mat 24, 2021)

Botany and human research were the main research themes aboard the International Space Station today.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew is also staying focused on spacewalk preparations and orbital lab maintenance.

Space agriculture is key to sustaining human spaceflight as NASA and its international partners plan future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Today, Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet joined together for the Plant Water Management study to learn how to operate hydroponics in microgravity. The duo set up and configured hardware for the botany study that may also improve watering systems on Earth.

Pesquet also partnered with NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur for an investigation observing how microgravity affects an astronaut's ability to control robotics and spacecraft. The Pilote experiment uses virtual reality gear and tests a crew member's aptitude when maneuvering a computer-generated robotic arm toward a target. Results may influence the design of workstations and interfaces for future spacecraft and space habitats.

Blood sample collections started the day for NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough and Commander Akihiko Hoshide. Kimbrough, with assistance from Vande Hei, then spent the rest of Wednesday continuing to configure the station's newest toilet inside the Tranquility module. Hoshide set up the Astrobee robotic assistants for an upcoming student competition then swapped samples for a semiconductor crystal physics study.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are getting ready for their first career spacewalks set to begin June 2 at 1:20 a.m. EDT. The duo continued readying their spacewalking tools, communications gear and Orlan spacesuits today. The pair will exit the Poisk module and spend about six-and-a-half hours servicing Russian hardware and installing science experiments.

On-Orbit Status Report


Astrobee: A crewmember prepared the Astrobee free flyers and the JEM Module for remote video capture and live stream operations. Astrobee is made up of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots which are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.

DFM (Dendrite Fragmentation and Morphology during Melting and Solidification): A crewmember removed SUBSA Ampoule from the SUBSA Thermal Chamber and installed a new SUBSA Science Ampoule. When a metal solidifies during casting or additive manufacturing, it forms a multitude of tiny crystals called dendrites. The dendrite shape, and whether the dendrites fragment, determines the strength of the resulting solid metal. However, since gravity affects the growth and fragmentation process, it is unclear how those dendrites grow during freezing. The Dendrite Fragmentation and Morphology During Melting and Solidification (DFM) investigation, conducted in the Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) facility, uses microgravity to examine the effects of cooling and heating rate on the shape of these crystals.

Pilote: Crewmembers deployed the Pilote hardware and performed the Pilote science sessions. In order to test the ergonomics of a multisensory interface for controlling robotic arms and spacecraft, it is necessary to perform the trials in microgravity. Performing the test on Earth would lead to a design of a workstation using terrestrial ergonomic principles that do not correspond to conditions experienced on a spacecraft in orbit. The Pilote investigation tests the effectiveness of novel control schemes for the remote operation of robotic arms and space vehicles, using virtual reality and a new class of user-machine interfaces based on haptics.

Plant Water Management: A crewmember prepped the test fixture with fluid and primed the system and then performed the Test Cell1 ops. The Plant Water Management investigation demonstrates passive measures for controlling fluid delivery and uptake in plant growth systems. Reduced gravity creates challenges in providing adequate fluid and nutrition for plant growth. This investigation examines using other physical properties such as surface tension, wetting and system geometry to replace the role of gravity.

Robo-Pro Challenge: A crewmember prepared and supported a technical rehearsal of the Kibo Robot Programming Challenge 2 in order to confirm the technical feasibility with on-board equipment and Astrobee unit for the final round. Kibo Robot Programming Challenge (Robo-Pro Challenge), also known as Kibo-RPC, allows students to create programs to control Astrobee, a free-flying robot aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This opportunity provides hands-on experience with science, technology, engineering and mathematics in space and inspires the next generation of explorers. This activity is based on Japan-U.S. cooperation through the Japan-US Open platform Partnership Program (JP-US OP3).


Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis & Data Record: Crew performed an analysis of the water processing assembly (WPA) using the TOCA. The TOCA unit oxidizes organic carbon species present in the water to carbon dioxide gas and measures the concentration using nondispersive infrared spectroscopy. Analysis of the potable water using the TOCA occurs on a weekly basis. The crew replaced the TOCA Wastewater Bag (WWB) just prior to the sample collection to preclude overfill.

Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Portable Emergency Provisions (PEP) Inspection: Today, the crew performed the periodic PEP inspection, which involves utilizing a PEPs matrix and inspecting various emergency provisions such as the Portable Fire Extinguisher (PFE), Portable Breathing Apparatus (PBA), Quick Don Mask (QDM), and Extension Hose Tee Assemblies at multiple locations throughout the space station. The crew spends several minutes on each item and notes any visible damage. Inspections are performed routinely to ensure the PEPs are in good operational condition.

Environmental Health System (EHS) Microbial Air and Surface Sampling: The crew previously took surface and air samples for microbial analysis using the Microbial Air Sampler (MAS) and Surface Sample Kit (SSK). These samples were incubated in Petri dishes and examined by the crew. This gives medical personnel a gauge of microbial growth in the air and on surfaces of the ISS. The EHS monitors the atmosphere for gaseous contaminants from nonmetallic materials off-gassing, combustion products, and propellants, microbial contaminants from crewmembers and Station activities, water quality, acoustics, and radiation levels.

Completed Task List Activities:

Today's Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

HRF Rack 1 Rack Power Down Commanding
PRO MSRR Activation Commanding
Power Management Controller Unit (PMCU) Data Dump
Crew Dragon System Checkout
Look Ahead Plan:

Thursday, May 27 (GMT 147)

Myotones ops (ESA)
Space Suit Video (JAXA)
Artemis Hera ADLINK Powerup (NASA)
DFM SUBSA Sample Exchange and photo (NASA)
Kidney Cells CO2 Control Install (NASA)
TOILET Leak inspect and daily Question (NASA)
PWM 3&4 Article ops and Test Cell2 ops and stow (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Standard Measures Presleep Question (NASA)
Repository Blood and Urine setup (NASA)
Astrobee poweroff and stowage replace (NASA)

Transfer Cygnus Cargo Operations
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Social Media Event
Install EHIP Light (and secure with Wire Ties), LREBA, HECA Power Cable, HECA/ERCA hardware on ORLAN suits
Friday, May 28 (GMT 148)

CBEF fan Checkout and closeout (JAXA)
Standard Measures Post Sleep question (NASA)
TOILET Question (NASA)
BCM ROBOT Test session #2 (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Repository Blood and Urine Collect (NASA)
MVP locker relocate (NASA)
MAND Print removal (NASA)
AC Touch (NASA)
MSL SCA 3A-CETSOL3 #5 Exchange (ESA)
DFM SUBSA Sample Exchange (NASA)
Food Physiology Brief (NASA)

SpaceX-22 Dragon Rendezvous Review CBT
Entry into and Sealing of Orlans - assistance
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Resize
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Conference
Saturday, May 29 (GMT 149)

Repository Urine collect (NASA)
TOILET Daily Question (NASA)

Crew off duty day
Today's Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval and Insertion Operations
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Configuration
Payload Data Router Power off
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion
Toilet System Activation and Checkout [Deferred]
Crew performs PILOTE science
Antimicrobial Coatings Touch
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Social Media Event
Robot Programming Challenge 2 Technical Rehearsal
Plant Water Management 3&4 Wedge Test Operations
Toilet Stall Deployment [Deferred]
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) - JEM
Photo TV Battery Charge Swap
Stall Handrail Offset Bracket Installation [Deferred]
Resupply Air Tank Teardown
ARED Range of Motion Survey [Deferred]
Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Portable Emergency Provisions (PEPS) Inspection
Toilet Stall Outfitting [Deferred]
Onboard Training (OBT) Robotics On-board Trainer (ROBoT) Setup
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Downlink Message
Environmental Health System (EHS) - Surface Sampler Kit (SSK) and Microbial Air Sampler (MAS) Analysis T + 5
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Wastewater Bag (WWB) Changeout
Resupply Air Tank Setup & Initiation
Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules OBT
Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules Sample Exchange
Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules Historical Documentation Photos
Photo TV Battery Charge Deactivation

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