Status Report

ISS Weekly Science Status Report 24 May 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
May 24, 2001
Filed under , ,

Flight Engineers James Voss and Susan Helms and ground controllers successfully
set up the orbiting laboratory’s second and third major science facilities in
the past week, enabling the start of new experiments in human life sciences
and materials science.

ìAlthough their primary job is to assemble the Station and make it operational,
the crew has done a great job of finding time to do the installation, checkout
and maintenance on a growing number of science payloads and troubleshooting
problems along the way,î said John Uri, Expedition Two Lead Increment Scientist
with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. ìWe now have three major science
experiment facilities in the lab module ready to support research. Relatively
early in the life of the Station, we are measuring the radiation environment,
growing plants and biological materials, photographing our planet and laying
the groundwork for future research in space."

The crew began activation and setup of EXPRESS Rack 2 on Tuesday, May
22 and completed it Wednesday, May 23. This refrigerator-sized rack in the
U.S. Destiny laboratory module includes an experimental vibration dampening
system and an experiment to measure the effectiveness of that system.

Like EXPRESS Rack 1, activated earlier in the Expedition, EXPRESS Rack 2 provides
utilities such as power, cooling, data, fluids, etc. to experiments housed inside.
EXPRESS Rack 2 is devoted to learning how materials and biological substances
are influenced by the microgravity environment created as the Space Station
orbits Earth.

Also Tuesday, Helms set up the Experiment on Physics of Colloids in Space
, located in EXPRESS Rack 2. It will be activated later in the
Expedition. A colloid is a system of fine particles suspended in a fluid.
Paint, milk and ink are common examples. Scientists hope to better understand
how colloid structures grow and behave with the long-term goal of creating new
materials. The experiment consists of eight samples of three different types
of colloids on a carousel that can be rotated beneath different sensors for
analysis. The experiment will be on the station for about 11 months.

ìSetup went very smoothly, and we’re looking forward to the start of experiment
operations,î said Amy Jankovsky, deputy manager of the experiment at NASA’s
Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. ìThere’s a lot of theory but few
experimental results in this field. These fundamental studies of colloid physics
may be a precursor for colloid engineering of new materials with potential optoelectric
applications such as filters, switches, etc. used in computers and other devices.î

During the docking of a Russian Progress resupply ship Tuesday night, the Microgravity
Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS
) was operating to measure vibratory
disturbances on board the Station. MAMS, managed by the Glenn Research Center,
recorded the recent Soyuz taxi ship undocking using a low frequency sensor.
But Tuesday’s Progress docking was the first to be captured using the MAMS High
Resolution Accelerometer Package, an instrument specifically designed to measure
high frequency, transient type disturbances such as those expected during vehicle
docking. The Station vibration environment is important to scientists operating
delicate microgravity experiments onboard.

The crew also completed several other experiment maintenance activities Tuesday,
such as downloading data from one radiation sensor to a laptop computer, recharging
other portable radiation sensors, and taking nutrient, gas and condensate samples
from a plant growth experiment.

On Monday, May 21, Voss completed half of the installation of the Active
Rack Isolation System (ARIS)
in EXPRESS Rack 2. ARIS acts as a vibration
absorber to help isolate tiny potential vibrations such as those caused by crew
exercise that can upset sensitive science experiments. ARIS relies on a system
of sensors and actuators. When sensors detect disturbances from the Station,
the actuators act to counter the effects by delivering an opposite force between
the payload rack and the lab module. In this way, it performs like a powered
shock absorber. Much more complex than traditional shock absorbers, ARIS is
a finely tuned system with multiple components. Among these are accelerometer
assemblies that measure vibration disturbances and send data to the ARIS electronic
unit; push rods that apply force against the framework of the Station, and a
microgravity rack barrier that prevents accidental disturbance of the active
ARIS rack.

ARIS performance will be measured by the ARIS ISS Characterization Experiment
). This experiments includes a shaker unit in EXPRESS Rack 2 that
provides a precise measurable disturbance in order to simulate possible disturbances
within the Space Station environment.

On Friday, May 18, the crew and ground controllers activated and checked out
the Human Research Facility (HRF). This floor-to-ceiling rack will contain
experiments that will help scientists understand how humans adapt to living
and working in space. The facility provides life science researchers with the
equipment to study and evaluate the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes
in human beings caused by space flight.

The Human Research Facility rack was built and tested at NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and it was outfitted with life sciences equipment
at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, where the human life sciences experiments

are managed. The floor-to-ceiling rack fits inside the Destiny laboratory module
and provides services and utilities to experiments and instruments installed
inside. These include electrical power, command and data handling, cooling air
and water,pressurized gases and vacuum.

The Human Research Facility houses a computer workstation and portable computer
laptop for crew members to command and test the rack’s equipment, collect and
store experiment data, send data to and from scientists on Earth, provide a
place for the crew to keep notes, and for human life sciences experiments.

Activation of the Human Research Facility enhances the lab’s science capabilities
by allowing science data from the three Expedition Two radiation experiments
ñ Bonner Ball Neutron Detector, Phantom Torso and Dosimetric Mapping ñ
to be downlinked to the Payload Operations Center via the rack’s portable computer
system. These experiments have been collecting data and storing it on the rack
computer’s hard drive. The rack’s computer will also be used to transmit data
from the H-Reflex physiology experiment.

The Human Research Facility also supports a pair of diagnostic tools — the
Gas Analyzer System for Metabolic Analysis Physiology (GASMAP) and the
Ultrasound Imaging System (Ultrasound) used for human physiology research.

The crew and ground controllers in Huntsville and Houston on Friday, May 18,
checked out the GASMAP, which will be tested during this expedition and
used on future expeditions to assess the crews’ aerobic capacity. GASMAP analyzes
human metabolic function, cardiac output, lung diffusing capacity, lung volume,
pulmonary function and nitrogen washout. Ultrasound will be checked out later
during this expedition. It provides three-dimensional image enlargement of the
heart and other organs, muscles and blood vessels. It is capable of high-resolution
imaging in a wide range of applications, both research and diagnostic, such
as: echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), abdominal ultrasound (deep organ),
vascular ultrasound, gynecological ultrasound; muscle and tendon ultrasound,
transcranial ultrasound; ultrasound contrast studies, and small parts ultrasound.

Activation and check out of the Human Research Facility and related instruments
will enable future research, which will begin during Expedition Three starting
with the Space Station Flight 7A.1 in July.

Also Friday, May 18, the crew deactivated and stowed the cameras used for the
Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKam) after more
than 250 photographs were taken of the Earth during Expedition Two. Students
in classrooms around the country selected the sites for photography and will
use an interactive Web site to analyze the images. When students return to school
this fall, the cameras will be turned on again, and more images will be recorded
during Expedition Three.

Nominal operations continue for payloads inside EXPRESS Rack 1, including
plant growth and protein crystal growth experiments. Science teams and controllers
are continuing efforts to reactivate the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing
Apparatus (CGBA)
, which shut down in the early morning hours Wednesday,
May 9, during commanding from the ground. CBGA is devoted to studying bacterial
fermentation processes used in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

SpaceRef staff editor.