Status Report

ISS Science Operations Status Report for week ending August 1, 2002

By SpaceRef Editor
August 1, 2002
Filed under , ,

RELEASE: 02-194
Expedition Five Science Operations
Status Report for week ending August 1, 2002

Soybean plants growing in the Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC) Plant Growth
Unit have entered the reproductive stage. High-resolution photos taken by
Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson on board the International Space Station show
the plants have developed flowers and seed pods.

The chamber environment has been set to the optimal conditions for the seed
development. The crew on Tuesday conducted a third nutrient exchange and
gas sample procedure.

For this experiment, the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics
(WSCAR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Commercial Space Center
managed by the Space Product Development Program at NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is collaborating with Pioneer Hi-Bred
International Inc., a Dupont Company, to grow soybeans in space and
determine if these space-grown plants produce seeds with unique chemical
compositions. Soybeans are the largest single source of protein and oil in
the American diet, representing a multi-billion-dollar market share in the
food and animal feed industries. This research may result in soybeans with
improved oil, protein, or carbohydrate content, as well as the secondary
metabolites, such as phytoestrogen, of commercial value. This is the first
soybean plant growth experiment that has ever been conducted in space. It
will demonstrate that the controlled environment technologies developed for
the ADVASC experiment can support the production of a variety of crop plants
in space.

“The experiment is doing very well,” said Dr. Weijia Zhou, director of the
Wisconsin center and ADVASC principal investigator. “It has entered a
critical stage – seed production. Successful completion of this stage will
provide significant science return.”

The Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) vibration dampening system was
tested for eight minutes Monday during crew exercise. The data will be used
to compare the rack acceleration environment with restraints in place to the
environment when the dampening device is free to move but placed in ‘hold’
mode. In ‘hold,’ ARIS is keeping the rack centered in its space in the lab
but is not damping out vibrations. Beginning Wednesday, the Payload
Operations Center began a series of tests with ARIS to gain more operating
experience. ARIS, located in EXPRESS Rack 2, is designed to counter
vibrations caused by crew movement, operating equipment, etc. that could
disturb delicate microgravity experiments.

The Solidification Using Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) experiment team,
which has been troubleshooting commanding issues, transmitted new software
to the experiment Wednesday designed to verify a change in the temperature
at which the furnace melts and crystallizes the semiconductor material
inside. Following Wednesday’s checkouts by controllers and the science
team, including a full non-sample test run, Whitson today installed a sample
for processing, the third processing run so far of the mission. SUBSA is
investigating the distribution of impurities in a semiconductor crystal
during processing. The goal is to identify what causes the motion in melts
processed inside space laboratories and to reduce the magnitude of the melt
motion so that it does not interfere with semiconductor production. These
impurities, or dopants, are used to control the opto-electronic properties
of the crystals, and uniform distribution of the dopant is essential to
achieve the desired opto-electronic properties.

Completed Expedition Five experiments include the Stelsys liver cell tissue
growth experiment, the Microencapsulation Electrostatic Processing (MEPS)
experiment to develop drug-filled microcapsules for study, the Educational
Payload Operation – a demonstration of basic physics principles using simple
toys with the results being videoed for production into an educational film.
The other experiments under way in the Destiny lab module continue to
function normally.

Crew Earth Observations photography subjects this week included: fires in
northern Namibia, southern Angola and Zambia, , the Nyamuragira volcano near
the eastern border of Congo, which erupted July 26, spewing lava, steam, ash
and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, and agriculture patterns in the
Parana River valley of northern Argentina and southern Brazil.


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.


Steve Roy
Media Relations Department
(256) 544-0034

SpaceRef staff editor.