Status Report

ENEIDE Mission Information Report No. 5

By SpaceRef Editor
April 25, 2005
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ENEIDE Mission Information Report No. 5

Flight Day 7 (21 April 2005, GMT Day 111):


AES: The “Agrospace Experiment Suite” experiment is ongoing. In this experiment there are three bags, one containing beans and two containing rucola seeds. Today, the ESA astronaut, Robert Vittori, took pictures of each of the bags.

CRI: Following plan for the “Crickets in Space” experiment, Vittori initiated today the second of two 18-hour egg collection periods today. During this period the female crickets can lay their eggs on the vermiculite soil. This was the final egg collection planned, but the experiment itself will remain active until Flight Day when the crickets and their eggs will be transferred to the Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft for return to the ground with the ESA astronaut and the Expedition 10 crew.

Human Physiology

ETD: Today was the second of three planned sessions of Roberto Vittori with the Eye Tracking Device experiment. The main scientific objectives of the Eye Tracking Device experiment are to measure the orientation of “Listings plane” in a weightless environment and to determine if this plane is linked or not to a coordinate frame of reference of the vestibulo-oculomotor response.  The experiment set-up consists of a headset that includes two digital camera modules for binocular recording of horizontal, vertical and rotational eye movements and sensors to measure head movement, and of a laptop computer, which permits digital storage of all image sequences and data for subsequent laboratory analysis. Today’s session went nominally apart from an asymmetry in the experiment performance reported by Vittori.

MOP: Roberto Vittori completed the daily questionnaire for the “Motion Perception” experiment as planned.

VSV: Today, the VSV experiment was performed as planned by the ESA astronaut and concluded successfully. In particular, Roberto Vittori was able to adapt the experiment protocol to the available downlink capability. The aim of the VSV experiment is to study in weightless-ness the contribution of visceral receptors to the sense of subjective vertical. On Earth, the subjective sense of vertical is due to many sensory systems in the human body. These sensory systems utilise specialised sensors located respectively in the eye, in the inner ear, and in joints and muscles. More recently, a further contribution to the detection of subjective vertical was observed from other sensors, called “visceral receptors” (because they are located in the viscera, i.e the inner organs and the intestines), which are sensitive to blood mass shifts in the human body. These visceral receptors are mainly located in the kidneys and in the thorax.

The analysis of visceral receptor performance in a weightless environment allows to rule out possible bias due to visual and gravitational inputs from all gravity-sensitive sensors, i.e. from the vestibular and from part of the proprioceptive systems. Moreover, in the VSV experiment the visual orientation input is manipulated in order to select detailed information from visceral sensors by using an instrument called a Subjective Vertical Analyser, which provides a completely darkened environment. The body fluid mass of the test person, i.e. Roberto Vittori, is manipulated with the use of a Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) device, which is a standard method to shift fluids into the lower extremities of the body through suction. At the end of the experiment, the difference observed between the in-flight sessions and pre-flight sessions that have been performed on the ground, without the use of LBNP, will indicate the global contribution to orientation of sensory organs sensitive to gravitational inputs and the difference observed between the two in-flight sessions, with and without the use of LBNP, will indicate the global contribution to orientation of visceral receptors sensitive to fluid mass shifts.

Globally, the VSV experiment could contribute to clarify the role that these receptors play in the detection of body axis both on Earth and under microgravity, and increase scientific know-ledge on spatial orientation and flight safety.


ENM: The ESA astronaut performed today two relocations of the Electronic Nose Monitoring experiment. Each time, his task consisted in switching the unit off, repositioning it within the Russian segment of the Station, and switching it on again. Both operations were conducted nominally. The ENM is a technology demonstration experiment that uses a new class of chemical sensors that are designed to provide the overall olfactory profiles of a large number of chemical compounds within a closed environment. The objective of the experiment is to test the sensor under microgravity conditions and thus verify its applicability to space.

EST: The required daily activation of the Electronics Space Test experiment was performed as planned by the ESA astronaut. The EST experiment shall demonstrate that industrial electronic components can be implemented in space, if they are adequately protected and used correctly.

FTS: The Food Tray in Space experiment was performed nominally. The FTS consists of a tray-container (approximately 33 cm x 32 cm x 8 cm), containing 8 bags of typical and traditional food products from the region of Lazio in Italy, each individually vacuum-packed in certified plastic bags. Roberto Vittori consummated the experiment food and completed a questionnaire. The aim of this technology experiment is to demonstrate that traditional food items, produced from high quality products, are tasty and nutritious and do not loose their quality in spaceflight conditions.

GOA: The Garments for Orbital Activities in weightlessness session was carried out nominally. Roberto Vittori donned a specially designed T-shirt and performed a number of normal astronaut movements under weightless conditions.

LAZ: Following the failure analysis for Main Electronics Box of the LAZIO (Low Altitude Zone Ionizing Observatory) experiment hardware during the past days and the recommendation of corrective measures made by the ground team, Roberto Vittori was instructed to replace today a PMCIA memory card and then power up the Main Electronics Box again. He performed the actions as planned. The green LEDs on the control panel of the box were lit and the box worked correctly. The light flash session of the LAZIO experiment was performed nominally, as was the second changing of the magnetometer position and photography of the activity. Upon instruction from the ground team, the unit was left running by the ESA astronaut and the experiment is now running around the clock to gather as many data as possible to compensate for the lost experiment time during the past flight days. Some of the data lost can also be compensated by the data obtained from the cosmic ray detector Alteino, which is part of the LAZIO experiment and which has been working correctly, so that a large part of the scientific objectives of the LAZIO experiment can be achieved.

The objectives of the LAZIO experiment are 1) to take measurements of the magnetic environment inside the ISS and to study its relationship with the particle flux variations due to solar and geophysical phenomena, 2) to determine the relation of cosmic rays to the “Light Flash” phenomenon appearing in astronaut’s eyes during spaceflight and 3) to study – with the Alteino detector – the effect of different shielding materials in reducing the radiation environment.

Light flashes consist of unexpected visual phenomena caused by the interaction of cosmic rays with the eyes of the astronaut. They occur in space with frequency and type, which can vary considerably from subject to subject. A detailed study of the frequency and type of light flash occurrence is of particular interest to understand the interaction between cosmic rays and the astronaut’s visual apparatus (eye or central nervous system) to reduce risk in human space missions. For the light flash session of the LAZIO experiment conducted today, the ESA astronaut was in a sleeping bag to avoid floating. He wore a mask for dark isolation which made his eyes more sensitive to light flashes. He had to watch out for the appearance of light flashes and describe the type of light flash and his impressions on a voice recorder. The time of appearance was be marked by pushing a joystick.


ESD: The Electrostatic Self-Assembly Demonstration experiment was performed nominally, as planned for Flight Day 7, by the ESA astronaut. This education experiment aims at demonstrating the electrostatic self-assembly of two different types of macroscopic components in spherical shape of identical dimensions to create different molecular structures in weightless conditions and to film the demonstrations for later use by physics teachers on Earth. Electrostatic self-assembly occurs when different types of components charge with opposite electrical polarities. The interplay of repulsive interactions between like-charged objects and attractive interactions between unlike-charged ones results in the self-assembly of these objects into highly ordered, closed arrays. Self-assembly of components larger than molecules into ordered arrays is an efficient way in industrial processes of preparing microstructured materials with interesting properties. The video tape of the session taken today onboard the ISS will be brought back to Earth in the returning Soyuz TMA-5 with Roberto Vittori and used in the production of an educational DVD on the theme of  Properties of Matter, which will be made available to all interested schools in ESA member states.

Ground Teams: The Eneide Mission Information Reports focus on the execution of the experiment programme of the ESA astronaut on orbit. However, for each astronaut successfully working in space, there are dozens of engineers, scientists, medical doctors, mission controllers, coordinators, managers and other specialists, who follow, manage and support the mission from the ground. The success of the Eneide mission so far is due in no small measure to the efforts of the operational personnel involved at various locations on Earth: The ESA Flight Operations Team at the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, Germany, who are at the sharp end of the activities, the ESA Moscow Operations Support Team at the Russian Mission Control Centre TsUP in Korolyov near Moscow, Russia, the ESA Astronaut Support Team at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, the Italian Science Payload Operations Team at the Lazio User Centre installed at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, and the ESA Science Payload Operations Team at the Erasmus User Centre in the ESA establishment ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, which are all under the lead of the ESA Eneide Mission Management Team, which is also located at ESA/ESTEC in Noordwijk. Together with the cooperating teams of the Russian and American ISS partner organisations in Moscow, Baikonur, Houston, and Huntsville involved in the operations of the Station and the activities of the Russian and American Expedition 10 and 11 crew members, they are continuously working behind the scene to make the mission a success.

SpaceRef staff editor.