Status Report

ISS Expedition Three Science Operations Weekly Science Status Report 29 Aug 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
August 29, 2001
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The first cell culture experiments aboard the International Space Station
are on the way to being completed by early next week.

Commander Frank Culbertson has been working with the 32 cell cultures that
are growing kidney, ovarian and colon cells. Last week, he started the
experiment by initiating cell growth in each culture and then placing them
in the Biotechnology Specimen Temperature Controller. This incubator keeps
the cells at 36 degrees Celsius.

While completing many activities with the cell cultures, Culbertson has been
working closely with Payload Communications Managers at the Payload
Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

On Monday, Aug. 27, Culbertson preserved eight of the cultures by injecting
a fixative into the samples. Then, he placed the cultures in the
Biotechnology Refrigerator, where they will be stored until the Space
Shuttle brings them home later this year. For the remaining cultures – still
growing inside the incubator – he replenished the nutrient media to
encourage cell growth. He also checked the samples with a special device
that monitors the health of the cells and growth media.

Four separate investigations are being carried out as part of the Cellular
Biotechnology Operations Support System, or CBOSS. Scientists are studying
different types of normal and abnormal cells to see if microgravity – the
low-gravity inside the Space Station – results in cells that form tissues
more like those found in the human body. On Earth, most cells grown in
cultures form flat, thin specimens that do not allow scientists to examine
how the cells work together.

This research is the first opportunity for scientists to begin growth of
cell cultures that have never been exposed to Earth’s gravity. This is
possible because the crew was available to start the experiment soon after
the cells were delivered to the Space Station. This will make it easier for
investigators to determine the differences between samples grown in space
and samples grown in Earth’s constant gravity.

This cell culture system is an interim platform for cell-based research
aboard the Space Station that will be used until the permanent Biotechnology
Facility is delivered to the Station. This experiment is managed by NASA’s
Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and is part of the Microgravity
Research Program at the Marshall Center.

The Expedition Three crew also became test subjects for a new human life
sciences experiment started in space this week: the Renal Stone
investigation studies a possible countermeasure for preventing kidney stone
formation. Previous data have indicated that space flight causes changes in
the human renal system, including the kidneys. Exposure to microgravity may
increase the risk of kidney stone development during and immediately after
space flight.

During Expedition Three, the crew is testing potassium citrate as a possible
therapy for minimizing renal stone development. This week, they are setting
up equipment for collecting urine samples, and they are completing diet

Many experiments continue to be monitored by the crew and operated by
investigators at telescience centers around the world. The Experiment on
Physics of Colloids in Space science team has commanded several runs during
Expedition Three from the NASA Glenn Research Center’s Telescience Support
Center in Cleveland, Ohio. A colloid is a system of particles suspended in
a fluid. Common examples are paint, milk and ink. Microgravity research
may yield insights that could lead to engineering new colloid products on

A group of scientists at the University of Alabama in Birmingham are sending
commands to the Dynamically Controlled Protein Crystal Growth experiment,
which is growing biological crystals in space. This experiment is the first
to allow scientists on the ground to control the crystallization rate of
biological samples. Using nitrogen gas, the scientist can adjust the
evaporation rate of the solution surrounding the forming crystals. Analysis
of crystals grown in space may provide insights into numerous biological
processes on Earth, with applications ranging from medicine to agriculture.

Part of setting up any new laboratory is characterizing the environment
where the experiments are conducted. Three experiments that study the
microgravity environment recorded data during the Progress spacecraft
docking last week. The Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System and the
Space Acceleration Measurement System recorded the vibrations inside the
Station during the dockings activities.

The Active Rack Isolation System ISS Characterization Experiment (ARIS-ICE)
has captured data during the docking and undocking of the Progress
spacecraft, as well as the Shuttle undocking, recording vibrations outside
and inside EXPRESS Rack 2. As the events occurred, the ICE experiment
recorded detailed data on how the ARIS vibration isolation system in EXPRESS
Rack 2 responded to the docking activities. ICE has recorded both
low-frequency vibrations during crew exercise and Station reboosting
operations and broad frequency vibrations during hammer testing and
spacecraft dockings and undockings. Next, engineers will collect
measurements with a calibrated “shaker” device to further define the system’
s ability to protect delicate microgravity experiments from specific higher
frequency vibrations.

In addition, the Bonner Ball Neutron Detector, delivered during Expedition
Two, continues to record data on the Station’s radiation environment.

Photography targets uplinked this week to the Space Station for the Crew
Earth Observations research program include dust, smoke, smog and volcanic
ash over Europe; fault patterns in rocks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains;
the Yangtze river delta and the Nile river delta; industrial haze over the
northeastern United States and Canada; and agriculture land patterns,
surface geology and dust storms in California’s central valley region.

Editor’s Note: The Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages all science research experiment
operations aboard the International Space Station. The center is also home
for coordination of the mission-planning work of a variety of international
sources, all science payload deliveries and retrieval, and payload training
and payload safety programs for the Station crew and all ground personnel.

SpaceRef staff editor.