For release: 03/06/02 (for week ending 03/06/02)
Science Ops status report #: 02-045
Protein crystal experiment activation continues on Space Station
The International Space Station crew continues to activate a protein experiment that will serve as a reference for planning similar research in the future aboard the orbiting laboratory. Space Station science experiments and payload operations are managed by the Payload Operations Center at the Marshall Center.
Photo: Image of crystal growth tray (NASA)
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 in 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.
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.
Newsroom Home | News releases | Photos | Fact sheets
Video | Audio | Bios | Press kits | Media services | Contact us