ISS Science Operations Status Report for week ending August 21, 2002

Status Report From: ISS Science Operations News
Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Today and Thursday, selected members of the International Space Station crew continued to record their experiences for the Crew Interactions experiment.

The experiment, which has been part of every Expedition since the Station became permanently occupied, will identify and characterize important interpersonal and cultural factors that may affect the performance of the crew and ground support personnel. The study examines issues involving tension, cohesion and leadership roles in Station crews and ground support teams. Participating station crewmembers fill out the survey on the Human Research Facility laptop computer and later downlink the data to the ground.

Also today, Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson was scheduled to test a new Internet-based system designed to improve communications between the Station crew and payload developers before making the system operational.

On Friday, Commander Valery Korzun will conduct a pre-spacewalk session with the Pulmonary Function in Flight (PuFF) experiment. His spacewalk, which had been scheduled for this Friday is now re-scheduled for Monday, August 26. The low-pressure environment of a spacesuit can cause nitrogen in the blood to form bubbles. Additionally, little is known about how the lungs can be affected by long-term exposure to microgravity. PuFF measures changes in the evenness of gas exchange in the lungs and changes in respiratory muscle strength. Scientists hope to find new ways to protect the health of space travelers in the years ahead, and to gain a better understanding of the effects of gravity on the lungs on Earth. Korzun and Whitson performed the PuFF tests last Saturday following their spacewalk. Korzun will perform the test again next Tuesday following his Monday spacewalk.

Crew Earth Observations photography subjects this week included: Angolan biomass burning, Congo-Zimbabwe biomass burning, the urban area of Beijing, China, former typhoon Phanfone in the Pacific, and air quality over the Western Mediterranean.

Experiment operations planned for this week with the Solidification Using Baffle in Sealed Ampoule (SUBSA) experiment were deferred until the ground science team completes preparations to resume experiment operations. SUBSA is investigating manufacturing processes that could yield insights into semiconductor production on Earth. Impurities, or dopants, in semiconductors are used to control the opto-electronic properties of the semiconductor crystal, and the uniform distribution of the dopant is essential to achieve the desired properties. The goal of SUBSA is to study the resulting solids formed in microgravity where the motion of dopants caused by buoyancy forces are greatly reduced, resulting in more even distribution of the dopants.

The Station crew, working with the ground team, completed its fifth experiment run last week with SUBSA. Following the 15-hour run on Saturday, Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson noticed a crack in the quartz sample tube as she prepared to remove the sample. The tube broke as she removed it. Whitson used tweezers and other tools to remove the remaining sample tube.

A small quartz piece, from the sample tube floated away but was confined in the work area of the Microgravity Science Glovebox where SUBSA furnace is housed. The Glovebox, which features a sealed work area with windows and built-in gloves, is designed to contain experiments with fluids, flames, particles and fumes that could otherwise escape into the Station environment. The science team hopes to resume operations once any stray particles have been removed from the Glovebox and SUBSA hardware.

The crew continued to monitor experiments and payload facilities on board during the past week. Automated experiments continuing to operate normally included the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE), Protein Crystal Growth Single Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES), Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC), Microgravitiy Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS), and Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS).

Completed science payloads for Expedition Five include: StelSys, Educational Payload Operations 5, Microencapsulation Electrostatic Processing (MEPS), and Zeolite Crystal Growth (ZCG).

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