Status Report

ISS Science Operations Weekly Status Report 6 Mar 2002

By SpaceRef Editor
March 6, 2002
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The Space Station crew continued the activation of an experiment to test the
formation rate of various proteins that will serve as a reference for planning
future biological-, medical- and agriculture-related research.

The protein crystal growth chamber activated Thursday, Feb. 28, was the eighth
so far activated in Expedition Four. The first six were activated soon after
the experiment arrived on the Space Station. The remaining six chambers are
being activated gradually to compare crystallization rates. The next growth
chamber will be activated March 15.

The growth chambers are the heart of the Protein Crystal Growth Single Thermal
Enclosure System
experiment. The fundamental goal for growing biological
crystals is to determine their structure and the biological processes in which
they are involved. Understanding these structures may impact the studies of
medicine, agriculture, the environment and other biosciences. Every chemical
reaction essential to life depends on the function of these compounds.

The proteins on this mission are not particularly important themselves. Instead,
they are being used to characterize the microgravity environment. A range of
different solutions is used to crystallize proteins. Scientists are attempting
to learn how fast different solutions grow crystals so experimenters on later
Station missions can better match the length of the mission to the type of protein
solution being flown. Protein experiments had a maximum of two weeks in space
during Space Shuttle missions of the 1980s and 1990s. In the Space Station
era, mission duration – the time between launches – may range from 28 days to
119 days.

On Friday, March 1, the Human Research Facility was activated to downlink
data from the Pulmonary Function in Flight (PUFF) and EVA Radiation
Monitoring (EVARM)
experiments collected during spacewalks last month by
astronauts Dan Bursch and Carl Walz. PuFF measures human lung function and
EVARM measures radiation dosage during spacewalks.

The crew completed work with the Education Payload Operations 4 experiment
last Friday. The science team transmitted their appreciation to the crew. The
payload consists of several simple toys and devices to demonstrate basic principles
of physics and the microgravity environment in an effort to interest children
in science, math and technology careers. The crew is videotaping these demonstrations
for later production into an educational video.

The crew also repacked cell science samples in the Bio Technology Refrigerator
last week to make room for plant science samples collected later in the mission.

On Sunday, the crew stowed the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) test
hardware, and ground controllers powered down EXPRESS Rack 2 in preparation
for Monday’s repair and recovery operations. The crew began work on the ARIS
repair on Monday and planned to complete it today (Feb. 6). The science team
is preparing to test the rack via ground commanding. One of eight pushrods
used to isolate the rack from the rest of the Station was inoperative Jan. 24. ARIS is designed
to damp out vibrations that could affect delicate microgravity experiments.

Troubleshooting also continues with the Experiment on Physics of Colloids
Space following a computer problem during commanding Feb. 24.
Efforts by the crew Saturday, March 2, including changing out the experiment’s
hard drive units, were unsuccessful.

The Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) photography
experiment was scheduled to be activated today (March 6), using a camera set
up in the Russian Service Module. On Friday, the crew will switch to a telephoto
lens for detailed pictures.

Today (Feb. 6), the crew is scheduled to collect gas and condensate samples
from the Advanced Astroculture experiment and refurbish the nutrients
used to grow the plants in this experiment. On Friday, they are scheduled to
collect tissue samples from the seedlings. Bursch, Walz and Yuri Onufrienko
also are expected to continue recording their Crew Interactions surveys
to help determine cultural and interpersonal factors that can affect the performance
of space crews.

Locations scheduled to be photographed this week for the Crew Earth Observations
research program were: Typhoon Mitag near the Philippine Islands, ice fields
and glaciers of western New Guinea, the Ganges River delta, Mediterranean and
European dust and air pollution, Congo-Zimbabwe, industrialized southeast Africa,
snowfall patterns in the Eastern U.S., ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, snowpack
in the watershed area of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the Parana River basin
in South America.

SpaceRef staff editor.