For release: 05-01-02 (for week ending 05-01-02)
Science Ops status report #: 02-109
Experiment vibration dampener on Space Station passes first test
A vibration dampener for protecting delicate experiments passed its first operational test and astronauts continued cultivating wheat and Brassica plants aboard the International Space Station during the past week. Station experiments and payload operations are managed by the Marshall Center.
Photo: Brassica plants aboard Space Station (NASA/JSC)
An experimental vibration dampener passed its first operational test in support of a payload aboard the International Space Station during the past week.
The Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS), which uses eight actuator rods to "float" EXPRESS Rack 2 inside the Destiny lab module, provided vibration isolation for the Zeolite Crystal Growth (ZCG) experiment, which is located in the rack. Many Station experiments are designed to take advantage of the near absence of gravity's influence on the Station. ARIS is designed to damp out random vibrations caused by crew movements, operating equipment and under certain limited conditions even docking spacecraft.
"The most critical hours for the experiment were the first 30, which have now just passed and we were able to provide the necessary microgravity environment," said Naveed Quraishi, project manager of the ARIS-ISS Characterization Experiment (ARIS-ICE) with NASA's Johnson Space Center. "ARIS support of ZCG has been and continues to be successful. We have now been in orbit over one year and are very close to concluding the ARIS-ICE on-orbit experiment. We have one more test to do, and then we come home."
The Zeolite experiment, activated April 22, continues to function well during a planned 15-day experiment run. This Expedition 4 experiment arrived on the recent STS-110 mission. It will be completed and samples will be unloaded around May 10.
Zeolites are used in many chemical manufacturing processes on Earth, including gasoline production. Insights from the Station experiment could lead to improvements in manufacturing processes.
On Friday (April 26) and again on Tuesday, Flight Engineer Dan Bursch pollinated Brassica plants in chamber 4 of the Biomass Production System. Ground controllers also attempted one more time to power up the Experiment on Physics of Colloids in Space. The experiment did not respond, and the payload team is planning to return it on an upcoming Shuttle mission.
Bursch and fellow Flight Engineer Carl Walz on Monday performed the monthly session of the Pulmonary Function in Flight (PuFF) experiment. This recurring research tests changes in lung function during long duration space missions. One more session is planned for this Expedition in May.
The crew and ground controllers on Monday made a fourth attempt to restore the Medium rate Communication Outage Recorder (MCOR), which serves as the main science data storage unit during Loss Of Signal periods when the Station is not in satellite contact with the ground. The device has been unable to record data since April 18. The crew replaced the computer battery and later switched to the backup computer. Controllers were unable to restore the recorder to full operation and currently are planning another effort at a later date. This temporary loss of the recorder has limited the data return during this time from the Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS), which is documenting disturbances to the Station's acceleration environment. However, it has had minimal impact on the remaining suite of experiments.
On Tuesday, Bursch and Walz completed the final in-flight session of the Hoffman Reflex experiment. This investigation into how neurovestibular reflexes are altered during long-duration space flight has been highly successful during the three Expeditions on which it was conducted. The crew will perform sessions after their -More-return to Earth to document the re-adaptation process.
Today (Wednesday) the crew took documentation photos of the Commercial Protein Crystal Growth experiment. All three crewmembers completed their Crew Interactions surveys on the Human Research Facility laptop computer.
Ground activation and checkout of EXPRESS Rack 5 was completed today (Wednesday). The rack will then be shut down following this check. It is not scheduled to host any science payloads until Expedition 7. Four EXPRESS racks and the Human Research Facility rack are currently operational in the Destiny lab module.
Scheduled for Thursday is the crew's regular 90-day check of the Gasmapexperiment and documentation photos of the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus.
Crew Earth Observations (CEO) photography targets for the week include the interaction of Saharan dust, Mt. Etna gas and ash, the Po River valley, smog in the Western Mediterranean, coral reefs of the Palawan and the Sulu Sea west of the Philippines, fires in Malaysia and Sumatra, fires in central Cuba, fires in the Colorado Rockies, flooding and construction along waterways in Egypt and Turkey, human development in Bombay, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh, air quality around the Great Lakes of the Eastern United States, and snow and ice in the Canadian Rockies.
Results from CEO photography aboard the Space Station were recently published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The April 25 issue of the weekly American Geophysical Union's EOS journal contains an article concluding that the Station crew using hand-held cameras have routinely achieved 6-meter resolution, compared to commercial Earth imaging satellites, which advertise 10-25-meter resolution. Among other cameras, the CEO experiment uses an electronic digital camera with a 400 mm lens with a doubler attachment, yielding an effective 800 mm focal length.
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.