Status Report

Space Station Science Operations Status Report for the week ending July 26, 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
July 26, 2001
Filed under ,

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Ala. 35812

RELEASE: 01-255

Expedition Two Science Operations
Status Report for the week ending July 26, 2001

Payload ground support teams were at Kennedy Space Center to greet Space
Shuttle Atlantis when it landed late Tuesday and retrieve their experiments
that have been onboard the International Space Station for more than three

Now on their way back to labs around the country for analysis are the
Advanced Astroculture experiment, Protein Crystal Growth Single Thermal
Enclosure Unit experiment, and the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing
Apparatus experiment.

The goal of the Advanced Astroculture experiment, the first U.S. plant
growth facility aboard the Station, was to grow plants through a complete
life cycle – from seed to seed. When the Astroculture experiment returns to
the University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists will conduct physiology and
morphology studies that include counting the number of seeds and leaves,
growth height, weight and other factors, said Dr. Weijia Zhou, principal
investigator for the experiment, with the Wisconsin Center for Space
Automation and Robotics (WCSAR). The post-mission study also will include
cell wall and chemical analyses.

The seeds are Arabidopsis, a member of the same plant family as cabbage,
cauliflower and radishes. It was selected for the experiment by WSCAR’s
commercial partner, Space Explorers Inc., because of several advantages such
as rapid life cycle, easy cultivation in restricted space, prolific seed
production, extensive genetic maps and other factors. Such advantages have
led Arabidopsis becoming the model organism for studies of the molecular
genetics of flowering plants.

Most of the seeds will be turned over to Space Explorers, located in De
Pere, Wisconsin. The company plans to incorporate the results obtained from
the post mission analysis into its “Orbital Laboratory” Internet-based
commercial education program. It also will use the seeds for other
proprietary commercial ventures.

Some of the space-grown seeds will be used to conduct the second Arabidopsis
life cycle experiment on the upcoming UF-1 Shuttle mission to the Station,
which will produce a second generation of space seeds, Zhou said.

“That will allow us to study whether microgravity may have effects on the
plant’s genetic code,” Zhou said.

The protein crystallization experiment is on its way back to Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville for analysis of biological samples grown during
the mission. The Bioprocessing Apparatus will return to the University of
Colorado in Boulder where the payload team will try to learn why it
experienced a failure early in the mission.

Automated payloads onboard the Station continued operating during the past
week, while crew activities focused on docked operations with Space Shuttle
Atlantis. The crew continued to monitor experiment health and status to
make sure experiments were operating normally.

The Protein Crystal Growth Enhanced Gaseous Nitrogen Dewar
experiment transferred to the Station last week during the STS-104 Shuttle
mission was placed in Zarya, the Russian FGB module, and is operating as
expected. It is the last Expedition Two experiment to arrive on the

On Saturday, July 21, the Microgravity Acceleration Experiment System
recorded the Atlantis undocking. It also recorded the Shuttle docking last
week. Scientists plan to compare the Station microgravity environment with
and without the additional mass of an attached Shuttle. This information
will be used by scientists planning future experiments that require a
vibration-free environment and allow them to minimize the impact on their

During the past week, the Experiment on Physics of Colloids in Space
conducted four scheduled operations. Two were used to downlink missing data
files to the ground and perform some short science measurements to monitor
any changes in four crystalline samples started in the past several weeks.
The remaining two operations were used to mix the Colloid-Polymer Critical
Point sample and begin studying its behavior. Scientists monitoring their
experiment from the ground were able to obtain excellent data on the sample,
which separated itself into two phases resembling a gas and a liquid.

A colloid is a system of fine particles suspended in a fluid. Paint, milk
and ink are only some of the examples of colloid products routinely produced
and used on Earth. Scientists hope to learn how to manipulate the physical
structure of colloids for the manufacture of new materials and products.

No photography targets were uplinked to the crew last week for the Crew
Earth Observations research program due to orbit changes caused by reboost
activities to maintain the proper Station orbit. The next coordinates were
scheduled to be uplinked to the crew on Thursday.

Other experiments continuing operations aboard the Station are: the
Commercial Protein Crystal Growth experiment, the Active Rack Isolation
System, and three radiation monitoring experiments — Phantom Torso,
Dosimetric Mapping and the Bonner Ball Neutron Detector.

The Payload Operations Center has sent more than 15,000 commands to the
Space Station to date. The Expedition 3 cadre is scheduled to succeed the
Expedition 2 team on round the clock operations on August 6. The Expedition
2 team is completing five months of round the clock operations and support
for payload operations. In coming months, these controllers will be
preparing to return to the control room for later Station missions.

In the meantime, controllers are continuing to update the software on board
the Station to recognize the new payloads, and control software on the
ground is undergoing similar updates.


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.


Steve Roy
Media Relations Department
(256) 544-0034

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Marshall Space Flight Center
Media Relations Department
(256) 544-0034
(256) 544-5852 (fax)

SpaceRef staff editor.