For release: 04/10/02 (for week ending 04/10/02)
Science Ops status report #: 02/-085
New experiments reach International Space Station
The arrival of Space Shuttle Atlantis at the International Space Station this week signals the return of completed Expedition Four experiments to Earth, and the arrival of new experiments, including almost 300 biological samples prepared by students. Space Station science experiments and payload operations are managed by the Payload Operations Center at the Marshall Center.
Photo: Student loads biological samples. (NASA/MSFC)
The docking of Space Shuttle Atlantis with the International Space Station today signals the return of completed Expedition Four experiments and the arrival of new experiments that will complete the mission of the fourth crew of the International Space Station.
Five experiments will be transferred from Atlantis, which docked today, to the Station’s Destiny science lab: the Photosynthesis Experiment and System Testing and Operation (PESTO), Protein Crystal Growth-Enhanced Gaseous Nitrogen (PCG-EGN) Dewar, Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA), Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG), and the first samples for the Zeolite Crystal Growth furnace, which has been on board since last December.
Returning to Earth aboard the orbiter will be the Protein Crystal Growth Single Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES), the Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC) experiment, and cell samples stored in the Cellular Biotechnology Operations Support System (CBOSS) Biotechnology Refrigerator.
"Shuttle missions to the Station are typically very busy times for the crews and for the science teams as they work to move payloads which can’t be without power for more than a few minutes to and from the Station and make sure that they are operating correctly,” Expedition Four Lead Increment Scientist John Uri said. “One group of scientists is very excited to be getting back their experiments and samples. Another group is anxious to get going with their research."
The crew deactivated the growth cylinders in the PCG-STES Unit 10 on Tuesday. Unit 10 and an identical unit will be transferred to the Shuttle on Friday.
The crew collected final ADVASC plant tissue samples and removed excess condensate fluid last week. The science team downlinked the science data and sent commands to dry out the plants for return. The final gas sample is scheduled to take place a couple hours before ADVASC deactivation Saturday. Deactivation will be followed by the cable disconnects. ADVASC will be transferred to the Shuttle for return.
Shortly after Shuttle docking today (Wednesday), the CPCG experiment was scheduled to be transferred to the Station and activated to keep samples at the correct temperature. On Friday, the crew will transfer the Biomass Production System (BPS) containing the PESTO experiment to the Station, as well as the PCG-EGN Dewar. They will transfer the Zeolite samples on Saturday, followed on Sunday by the CGBA experiment.
After cell science and plant samples stored in the Biotechnology Refrigerator are transferred to the Shuttle on April 17, the crew will deactivate the refrigerator and move it to another position in EXPRESS Rack 4 and transfer the new ARCTIC freezer from the Shuttle to the position vacated by the refrigerator. Capable of preserving biological samples at sub-freezing temperatures, this new lab facility weighs 23 pounds and has a capacity of 0.67 cubic feet (0.01897 cubic meters). It also has the capability for onboard data storage and logging, and there is additional command and control for the uplinking and downlinking of data. Managed by Johnson Space Center, ARCTIC was made by Oceaneering Space Systems, Inc. of Houston.
In other payload activities, Flight Engineer Dan Bursch last week completed a procedure to move the Temporary Sleep Station buckle and strap away from a Space Acceleration Measurement System sensor head, which had recorded some unexplained disturbances. Bursch repeated a test entering and exiting the sleep restraint to confirm that the interference had been corrected while the ground team monitored. SAMS and a related experiment, the Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System, recorded today’s Shuttle docking.
Pre-spacewalk readings of the dosimeter badges for the EVA Radiation Monitoring (EVARM) experiment were conducted Tuesday and today (Wednesday), with post-spacewalk readings scheduled for Friday and Saturday. These badges, worn in the cooling undergarments of the U.S. EVA suits, will be used during upcoming spacewalks to install a new section of the Space Station backbone.
Since last week, the Biotechnology Refrigerator has experienced difficulty maintaining its expected temperature range. CBOSS engineers have determined that one of the three thermo electric coolers in the refrigerator has failed, which results in higher than desired temperatures. No on-orbit maintenance is possible. The station cabin temperature has been reduced and a fan directed at the refrigerator air inlet will continue.
Locations scheduled to be photographed this week for the Crew Earth Observations research program include: dust and smog in the western Mediterranean, glaciers and snowpack in the Andean glaciers of Peru, fires through central Cuba.
EXPRESS Rack 2 was deactivated Monday and EXPRESS Rack 1 will be powered down Thursday to conserve power during joint Shuttle/Station operations, which require the Station solar arrays to be turned to accommodate Shuttle docking. Rack 2 will be reactivated April 16, and Rack 1 will be reactivated before shuttle undocking.
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.