ISS Science Status Report for week ending Nov. 15, 2002

Status Report From: ISS Science Operations News
Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2002

Middle school students conducted fall geography research this week courtesy of the International Space Station.

The Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM) science team began photography operations on Monday and continued throughout the week using an automated camera in a window of the orbiting research lab. Ten schools participated in this week's operations. More than 600 images taken on 46 orbits have been downlinked to the science team for distribution to the schools. The experiment allows students around the country to send commands to the camera and take pictures of geographical or manmade features that they have selected for various classroom studies. The digital images are transmitted to Earth, where students can retrieve them via the Internet in a matter of hours. No EarthKAM operations were scheduled until 2003, but changes in Russian and U.S. launch schedules permitted time for the educational research program.

On Thursday, selected members of the crew participated in the Crew Interactions research program. The experiment consists of a computer-based survey of roughly 70 questions. Scientists hope to identify and characterize interpersonal and cultural factors that could affect the performance of the crew, as well as ground support personnel also participating in the survey.

On Thursday, the crew collected background radiation readings on the EVA Radiation Monitoring (EVARM) experiment. The experiment consists of dosimeter badges worn by astronauts in the cooling undergarments of their spacesuits during spacewalks. Measurements taken inside the Station will be compared to radiation readings recorded after spacewalks. The EVARM badges will be worn next on the STS-113 Shuttle mission to the Space Station scheduled for November 18. EVARM is the first experiment to measure radiation received by specific parts of the body, including the eyes, internal organs and skin.

Downlinked images last week of Arabidopsis thaliana plants being grown in the Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus indicated that the plants have not grown as fast as expected. The science team decided this week to let the plants continue growing and harvest them after they are returned to Earth. The focus of this commercial experiment is to better understand the role of gravity on lignin - a plant substance that affects the strength of plant stalks and stems.

Crew Earth Observation photography subjects for this week included Buenos Aires; American Samoa; Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, China; the Nile River Delta, Madrid; Nairobi, Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa; Patagonian Glacier fields, and fires in Madagascar.

Troubleshooting work on the ARCTIC 1 freezer in the Destiny lab scheduled for Thursday was deferred until after the STS-113 Space Shuttle mission to the Space Station. ARCTIC 1 and an identical unit, ARCTIC 2, are used to preserve biological specimens for return to Earth. Both units malfunctioned recently. No samples are currently stored in either unit. The operations team has decided to bring the ARCTIC 2 freezer home on an upcoming Shuttle mission.

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