Status Report

ISS Science Operations Status Rpeort 19 Jun 2002

By SpaceRef Editor
June 19, 2002
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The new Expedition Five crew’s main science activity this week involved
activation and maintenance of a new liver cell research experiment.

The StelSys experiment was among the new payloads ferried to
the Station by Space Shuttle Endeavour last week. Liver cells have
remained frozen in a liquid nitrogen thermos-type container since launch
on June 5. On Tuesday, the crew transferred liquid nutrient pouches,
in which the liver cells will be processed, from a refrigerator to an
incubator. Today and again on Thursday, the crew will be injecting the cells into the nutrient
pouches in the incubator to begin a reactivation process.

“After two, six, 24, and 48 hours, the incubation process in different
cell cultures will be stopped by transferring the processed cells to
a freezer. On Friday, the last set of cells will complete processing
and the experiment will be concluded,”StelSys President and CEO Dr.
Paul Silber said. “Cellular products will be analyzed upon the return
of the samples to Earth on the STS-114 mission.”

One of the specialized functions of the human liver is to break down
drugs or toxins into less harmful and more water-soluble substances
that are more easily excreted from the body. The StelSys experiment
– a joint study by NASA and Baltimore-based biotechnology research company
StelSys, LLC – will test this function of human liver cells in the microgravity
environment of the Station and compare the results to the typical function
of a similar experiment conducted on Earth.

The findings of this experiment will provide information about the
effects of microgravity and shear force on proper function of human
liver cells as well as maintaining the health of humans living and working
in space. Research in this area could lead to earlier and more reliable
drug candidate screening for patients in need of liver and kidney treatments
prior to transplant. It could also accelerate development of new life
saving drugs by pharmaceutical companies. The experiment was designed
by StelSys scientists and is managed by the Cellular Biotechnology Program
Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

A variety of other new Expedition Five experiments are functioning
normally this week. The Protein Crystal Growth Single Thermal Enclosure
System (PCG STES)
experiment was activated June 9. The Advanced
Astroculture (ADVASC)
experiment was activated June 11, and the
science team reported this week that all the soybean plants have sprouted
and are visible from images made by a camera within the ADVASC growth

The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA)
and the Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI) experiments
are awaiting setup and activation next month of the new Microgravity
Science Glovebox (MSG)
facility. These two experiments are studying
production of semiconductor materials and the formation of molten materials
in space. Both require use of a furnace and take advantage of the enclosed
hands-on workspace of the Glovebox. The Glovebox facility was designed
and built by the European Space Agency (ESA) based upon science and
design requirements formulated in a cooperative arrangement between
NASA and ESA. Also awaiting activation is the Microencapsulation
Electrostatic Processing System (MEPS)
, and new samples in the Zeolite
Crystal Growth (ZCG)
experiment, which requires a 20-hour post-activation
period of minimum microgravity disturbance.

The crew reported last Friday that they completed EVA Radiation
Monitoring (EVARM)
sessions for all three of last week’s spacewalks
by STS-111 crewmembers Franklin Chang-Diaz and Philippe Perrin. This
experiment uses dosimeter badges worn inside astronauts’ spacesuits
to measure radiation absorbed by various areas of the body during spacewalks.
Other planned human life sciences investigations include Renal Stone
and the Pulmonary Function in Flight experiments devoted
to a potential preventative for kidney stones and improving lung function
in space crews.

The first Crew Earth Observations (CEO) photography subjects
were transmitted to the Station on Monday, including dust and smog over
the Eastern Mediterranean,  air quality over Italy and the U.S. eastern
seaboard, high central Andean glaciers, and icebergs in the Gulf of
St. Lawrence.

Aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour for return to Earth are several completed
Expedition Four Station experiments including: Protein Crystal Growth
Enhanced Gasseous Nitrogen
dewar, Commercial Protein Crystal
Growth High Density
, Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus,
Experiment on Physics of Colloids in Space and the Biomass
Production System

SpaceRef staff editor.