Status Report

ISS Science Operations Weekly Science Status Report 3 Oct 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
October 3, 2001
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Scientists went looking for solid results with an unusual fluid experiment
on board the Space Station during the past week.

Commanded by scientists on the ground, the Experiment on Physics of Colloids
in Space
completed a total of 108 hours of operations last week. A colloid
is a system of solid particles suspended in a fluid. On the Station, beyond
the influence of Earth’s gravity on colloids, scientists hope to learn more
about their behavior and perhaps engineer new materials useful on Earth.

The colloids experiment, managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland
and developed by Harvard University, continued on a series of detailed diagnostic
measurements on the crystallization of AB6 and AB13 samples. Those designations
indicate a larger “A” particle surrounded by either 6 or 13 smaller “B” particles,
both made of poly methyl methacrylate. The samples are mixed and then allowed
to crystallize. Scientists photograph them and shine light through them to
reveal the placement of particles suspended in the fluid.

“If you could use different materials for A and B, you could perhaps invent
new colloidal alloys,” said Mike Doherty, project manager with the Glenn field
center. Potential new materials might have applications in optical computing
and other fields of manufacturing, he said.

The colloids science team continued operating over the weekend with 12-hour
runs on Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, and 24-hour runs on Monday and
Tuesday, October 1-2. Additional tests were scheduled for Thursday, October
4 and the following Saturday and Sunday. This week’s experiments investigate
the behavior of the glass and colloid-polymer gel samples. The gel sample is
nearly a liquid, since only 3 percent of the sample is occupied by colloids.
Yet the colloids form structures that prevent the sample from flowing. In microgravity,
the colloidal glass crystallizes over a period of several days, a behavior not
seen on Earth. Scientists want to learn about the structures and how they are
formed.

Photography targets uplinked to the Station for the Crew Earth Observations
research program included ice and snow in the South Sandwich Islands, ice
flow and snow cover in Chilean glaciers, biomass burning in southern Africa,
fault lines and volcanoes in the Rukwa Transform of Tanzania, coral reefs in
Malaysia and the Philippines and human development in the Ganges River Delta
and the Red Basin in the Sichuan province in Western China. Crew photography
of the Earth has been a part of every space mission since 1961. As part of
the Crew Earth Observations experiment, crew members spend about 10 minutes
a day taking photographs with 35 and 70 mm cameras, as well as a digital camera.
The most frequent subjects include human expansion and its environmental impacts,
seasonal changes and fleeting events like fires, floods, storms and volcanic
eruptions.

On Monday, October 1, Commander Frank Culbertson radioed that he had finished
re-packing samples in the Biotechnology Refrigerator, allowing cold air
to circulate more freely among the samples. The science team was concerned
the samples might be getting too warm. Culbertson also complimented the payload
team for their efforts to simplify experiment procedures sent to the crew.
The

refrigerator is a thermo-electric, temperature-controlled unit which provides
0.53 cubic feet of on-orbit cold storage at 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees
Celsius). Processed earlier in Expedition 3, the samples, contained in 64 syringes,
are being

preserved in the refrigerator until they are returned to Earth for analysis
later this year. The objective of NASA’s biotechnology cell science research
aboard the International Space Station is to provide a controlled environment
for the cultivation of cells into healthy, three-dimensional tissues that retain
the form and function of natural, living tissue. Cell growth in microgravity
permits cultivation of tissue cultures of sizes and quantities not possible
on Earth, allowing research in areas pertinent to human diseases, including
cancer, diabetes, heart disease and AIDS. The refrigerator is part of the Cellular
Biotechnology Operations Support System
, managed by NASA’s Johnson Space
Center in Houston, and is part of the Microgravity Research Program at Marshall
รณ NASA’s Lead Center for low-gravity research.

The Space Acceleration Measurement System and the Microgravity Acceleration
Measurement System
, managed by Glenn field center, are currently operating
and ready to record during a test of a Station control moment gyro, used to
keep the outpost oriented properly in orbit. That 40-hour test, including thruster
firings, is scheduled to begin on Saturday, October 6.

The Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) underwent a “hammer test”on
Tuesday, October 2. A crew member used a small mallet to tap on various locations
around the lab module while the experimental vibration dampening device attempts
to counteract them. The ARIS team has conducted more than 1,000 tests to date,
and the team is busy analyzing the results, preparing for future missions when
the device will go operational to protect new microgravity experiments from
vibrations. ARIS was developed by The Boeing Company and managed by NASA’s
Johnson field center.

About 15.3 hours of payload activities were scheduled for Culbertson and Flight
Engineer Mikhail Tyurin and Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov this week as the crew prepares
for a Russian spacewalk on Monday, October 8. They continued checks and maintenance
on Station experiments this week, including a 90-day health check today on the
Gas Analyzer System for Metabolic Analysis Physiology in the Human Research
Facility
rack. Crew Earth Observations photography and Dreamtime
videography are on a list of optional items for the crew to conduct as their
other duties allow.

SpaceRef staff editor.