NASA International Space Station Expedition 12 Science Operations Status Report for the Week Ending February 10, 2006

Status Report From: Marshall Space Flight Center
Posted: Monday, March 13, 2006


Expedition 12 Commander and NASA Science Officer Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev deployed a free-flying satellite called SuitSat-1 during their spacewalk on February 3. This experiment involves a Russian Orlan spacesuit containing an amateur radio to transmit messages to students, ham radio operators and the general public. The SuitSat satellite was successfully activated on time 16 minutes after deployment. Schools in Japan reported successfully receiving the signal during the first orbit and hundreds of other reports from all over the world were received. The signal includes spoken words and an image for students to identify. Students can send the information in to receive a certificate that they successfully tracked the signal. The satellite is expected to re-enter the atmosphere and burn up in about a month.

McArthur set up cameras for a session of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students, or EarthKAM experiment. The middle school students study the Earth and then control a special digital camera mounted on the space station to photograph the Earth's coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. At the University of California at San Diego, the undergraduate student team manages the image requests and posts the photographs on the Internet for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view. A total of 104 schools participated from across the United States along with schools from Canada, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium, Japan and New Zealand.

McArthur also completed the Protein Crystal Growth Monitoring by Digital Holographic Microscope for the International Space Station, or PromISS-4 experiment. PromISS-4 is a protein crystal growth facility incorporating diagnostic equipment that allows for careful monitoring of the exact growth conditions of the crystals. It ran in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for 15 days, where protein crystals were observed growing in four of the six cells. These samples are scheduled to be returned to Earth for analysis in April. Results could lead to better information in the design and development of new pharmaceutical drugs.

NASA's payload operations team at the Marshall Center coordinates U.S. science activities on space station.

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