Status Report

ISS Expedition Three Science Operations Weekly Science Status Report 27 Sep 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
September 27, 2001
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An experimental device to protect microgravity experiments from vibrations
continued an intense series of checkout tests during the past week.

Control teams on the ground, aided by the Station crew, conducted various tests
of the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) daily. The experiment, developed
by The Boeing Company of Houston, was off for several days recently while new
software designed to resolve a rack reboot problem was installed in EXPRESS
Rack 2
, which provides its experiments with power, data, cooling and other
utilities. Scientists are anxious to complete the tests because future Space
Shuttle missions will be bringing sensitive microgravity experiments expected
to benefit from ARIS’ vibration dampening capabilities. The device uses eight
actuators that act like powered shock absorbers to counter minor vibrations
caused by operating equipment, crew exercise and similar disturbances.

Following troubleshooting efforts this week, the Dynamically Controlled
Protein Crystal Growth
science team successfully uplinked a series of commands
to the experiment late Wednesday, September 26, that restored its video imaging
capability. The experiment was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham
and managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Al. Previous
protein crystal growth experiments have been passive. DCPCG is the first to
allow scientists to watch the growth process and alter growth conditions in
an effort to improve the quality of the crystals. By growing larger, better-structured
crystals, scientists hope to learn more about how these biochemicals do their
jobs in humans, animals and plants.

The Space Acceleration Measurement System and the Microgravity Acceleration
Measurement System
, managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland,
Oh., continue to collect and downlink data. The payload team is prepared to
collect during two upcoming events. The vibration-measuring sensors captured
the Wednesday, September 26, undocking of a Russian booster rocket engine from
the station, and were set to record the October 6 test of a Station control
moment gyro (CMG) used to maintain the orbiting outpost in the proper orientation
in space. Acceleration data is of interest to scientists planning microgravity
experiments that could be affected by vibrations.

The Experiment on Physics of Colloids in Space, developed by Harvard
University and managed by the Glenn Research Center, conducted tests of 12,
24 or 72 hours every day last week and has continued with a series of 12- and
24-hour runs with binary colloids this week. It was also one of the EXPRESS
Rack 2 experiments turned off for several days during new rack software loading.
A colloid is a system of particles suspended in a fluid. Colloids are commonly
used on Earth. Examples are paint, milk and ink. Scientists hope to learn
more about their behavior on the Station, where gravity doesn’t mask their behavior,
and gain insights that could lead to engineering new materials.

The crew this week is continuing to participate in the Renal Stone experiment,
managed by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. As part of the double-blind
study, crew members will take either an experimental pill expected to help reduce
kidney stone formation or a placebo. It also requires them to keep a log of
their food consumption and activities and collect urine samples for return to
Earth and analysis.

Crew Earth Observation targets uplinked to the Station for the coming
week include documentation of the burning season in the African subcontinent,
glaciers in the Central Andes, human development in the Parana River basin in
Paraguay, and wind and water flow patterns in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French
Polynesia. By taking photographs from space, this experiment provides people
on Earth with data needed to better understand our planet. All of the imagery
is cataloged and added to a database at the Johnson Space Center in Houston
by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory. Through today’s digital
technologies and global networking, the catalog of imagery is available to scientists,
educators and the public on the Internet.

The Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) research
program, which suspended operations in May with the end of the school year,
is now scheduled to resume operations on October 9, with new schools continuing
to sign up for the program. EarthKAM, developed by the University of California,
San Diego and managed by Johnson Space Center, is a NASA education program that
enables thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s
perspective. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera
mounted on-board the Station. This enables them to photograph the Earth’s coastlines,
mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage
point of space. The EarthKAM team then posts these photographs on the Internet
for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view.

The crew continued last week to perform general laboratory and payload maintenance
and monitoring activities to make sure hardware is operating nominally. Untended
experiments continued to operate normally, including the Advanced Protein
Crystalization Facility
and the Materials International Space Station
Experiment
. Biological samples processed earlier during Expedition 3 are
safely stored in the Station’s new Biotechnology Refrigerator to protect
them from degradation before they are returned to Earth on Utilization Flight-1.

SpaceRef staff editor.