Status Report

ISS Weekly Science Status Report 10 Oct 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
October 10, 2001
Filed under , ,

Student science returned to the International Space Station this week
with a photography experiment that lets students take the pictures.

The Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM),
which ended in May when the school year ended, resumed Tuesday, October
9. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera
mounted on-board the Station. This enables them to photograph the Earth’s
coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from
the unique vantage point of space. Managed by the University of California,
San Diego, the EarthKAM team then posts these photographs on the Internet
for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view.
For example, California Trail Junior High School students in Olathe,
Kansas, are studying plate tectonics. Kansai Soka Junior and Senior
High School students in Osaka, Japan are studying the relationship between
ancient cities and modern geographical features, the habitat of a migratory
bird and other subjects. Students from Our Lady of Lourdes School in
Slidell, La., are using imagery to study rain forest destruction.

The Experiment on the Physics of Colloids in Space conducted
12-hour runs on Saturday and Sunday, October 6-7, and began a 96-hour
run on Tuesday, October 9. A colloid is a system of fine particles suspended
in a fluid. Common examples are paint, milk and ink. They also are found
in copymachine toner, phosphors for computer screens, emulsion droplets
in cosmetics, and anti-slip floor coatings. And they are used in manufacturing
processes such as polishing silicon for computer chips, removing bitter
tastes from wine and fruit juice. Managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center
in Cleveland, this basic research into colloid behavior in the Station’s
microgravity environment could contribute to engineering of new materials.

On Tuesday, October 9, all three crew members completed their procedures
for the Pulmonary Function in Flight (PuFF) experiment. The test
was also was run before Monday’s Russian spacewalk. Researchers are
looking for any changes in lung anatomy or performance caused by the
spacewalk or microgravity. This research, developed by the University
of California, San Diego, is important to maintain crew health as NASA
prepares for longer space missions. Each PuFF session includes five
lung function tests, which involve breathing only cabin air. The focus
is on measuring changes in the evenness of gas exchange in the lungs,
and on detecting changes in respiratory muscle strength. Just as rising
too quickly to the water’s surface can cause scuba divers to suffer
decompression sickness – commonly called “the bends,” sudden exposure
to high altitude can result in the same symptoms in pilots and space
crews. Extra vehicular activities (EVA) in space, or spacewalks, pose
a risk of nitrogen bubble formation due to the low pressure environment
of the space suit. The human body is normally exposed to 14.7 pounds
per square inch (1.034 kilograms per square centimeter) of pressure
– the pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere at sea-level and inside the
Space Station. A space suit provides only 4.3 pounds per square inch
(0.302 kilograms per square centimeter) of atmospheric pressure. Additionally,
little is known about how the lungs are affected by long-term exposure
to microgravity – the near-weightlessness found in the environment of
space. Unevenness of gas exchange is a symptom of virtually every pulmonary
disease, and gas exchange can be temporarily disrupted by the filtration
by the lungs of nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream. Changes in respiratory
muscle strength may result from long periods in the absence of gravity.
Ground controllers for the first time were able to activate and deactivate
PuFF supporting equipment, saving 20 minutes of crew time onboard. The
crew is scheduled to perform the PuFF studies during another spacewalk
planned for next week.

Photography targets for the Crew Earth Observations program
were uplinked to the crew this week. They include South African aerosols,
Chilean glaciers, Lake Poopo in the Andes, Hurricane Jerry in the Atlantic
Ocean, the Mekong and Ganges River deltas in Asia, European smog near
the Alps, and the coast of Somalia. Scientists on Earth are interested
in features such as human development, winter snowpack, lake levels
flooding, vegetation, etc.

The Cellular Biotechnology Operations Support System team reported
on Friday, October 5 that the temperature in their biotechnology refrigerator
was hovering at the desired point for cell samples inside processed
earlier in Expedition 3. Commander Frank Culbertson repacked the samples
earlier in the week to ensure good airflow in response to temperature
concerns from the team. The objective of NASA’s biotechnology cell science
Station research, managed by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston,
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.

Other activities scheduled for this week include several tests of the
Active Rack Isolation System, the Crew Interactions survey
and, as crew schedules permit, Dreamtime earth observations,
documentary and educational video sessions. Automated experiments onboard
the Station in the fields of materials,-More- biology, acceleration
measurement and radiation measurement continued to function normally
during the past week.-30-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.