From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Sunday, September 4, 2011
(Highlights: Second Week of August 2011) -- Images of tropical southern Africa taken by the Crew Earth Observation (CEO) investigation, show a smoke pall of subcontinental proportions dominating the African plateau from central Zimbabwe to northern Malawi, more than 621 miles away. The smoke palls obscure surface detail, so that Lake Malawi -- one of Africa’s Great Lakes -- is barely visible, as is Lake Cahora Bassa -- Africa's fourth largest reservoir -- in the Zambezi Valley. For this experiment, station crew members photograph natural and human-made changes on Earth. These images provide researchers with key data to better understand the planet.
Two of the Material International Space Station Experiment-8 (MISSE-8) investigations approached temperature limits due to the increased solar exposure from the high solar beta angle. On Aug. 6, the Phased Array Antenna (ReflectArray) and the Single Event Upset Xilinx-Sandia Experiment (SEUSXE II) investigations were turned off in a controlled manner to prevent damage due to overheating. These experiments will remain disabled until the end of the high beta period which ended Aug. 16. MISSE-8 tests a variety of materials to determine the effects of the space environment such as extreme temperature ranges, solar radiation and atomic oxygen, to name a few. This investigation is scheduled to remain attached to the exterior of the station for the next couple of years.
Eleven test points for the Flame Extinguishment Experiment-2 (FLEX-2) investigation were successfully performed, with 10 counting toward the matrix since one was a repeat. The test points used methanol fuel at various chamber pressures and atmospheres. The FLEX-2 investigation uses small droplets of fuel to study the special burning characteristics of fire in space. In particular, it studies the rate and matter in which fuel is burned, the conditions that are necessary for soot to form, and the way in which a mixture of fuels evaporates before burning. The results from these experiments will give scientists a better understanding of how fires behave in space and will provide important information that will be useful in increasing the fuel efficiency of engines using liquid fuels.
Ron Garan completed his final session with the Scaling Body-Related Actions in the Absence of Gravity (Passages) experiment. Passages tests how astronauts interpret visual information in weightlessness. It also tests hypothesis about human perception and provides information on how astronauts adjust to the novel conditions of spaceflight. These sessions may lead to virtual reality training models that could be used to better prepare astronauts for long-duration missions.
On Aug. 8, Satoshi Furukawa completed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Super Sensitive High Definition TV (SS-HDTV) set up in the Cupola, and took the first video recording with this camera of Earth's night view while passing over Japan. On Aug. 10-11, he recorded additional video of night views of Japan. On Aug. 12-13, he recorded the Perseids meteor shower. The SS-HDTV system records video during orbital night and transmits the images, such as Earth’s night, aurora and comets, to the ground.
Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist
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