jeudi 2 octobre 2014

Station Crew Conducts Biological Research, Assembles Hardware for Spacewalk












ISS - Expedition 41 Mission patch.

October 2, 2014

The six-person Expedition 41 crew of the International Space Station focused their attention Thursday on biological research and preparations for the first of three spacewalks planned for October, while the ground team worked to bring a newly installed weather monitoring instrument up to speed.

Late Wednesday, the International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer, or ISS-RapidScat installed on the exterior of the Columbus module was activated by payload controllers at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The radar antenna of the device, which is designed to monitor ocean winds from the station’s vantage point, began spinning as planned, but the payload controllers decided to place the system in safe mode when they noted higher than expected temperatures in the instrument’s electronics. The antenna continues to spin normally while the ground team analyzes the data and learns how to manage the temperature.


Animation above: A video camera on the International Space Station captured this view of the the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer, or RapidScat, on Wednesday. Animation Credit: NASA.

ISS-RapidScat was among the nearly two-and-a-half tons of cargo delivered to the station by the SpaceX Dragon resupply craft Sept. 23. Robotics officers at Houston’s Mission Control Center remotely commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove ISS-RapidScat from Dragon’s trunk and attach it to its adapter on the station’s Columbus laboratory on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst spent much of Thursday assembling hardware and reviewing procedures for a spacewalk scheduled to begin on Tuesday around 8:10 a.m. EDT. During the six-and-a-half-hour excursion, Wiseman and Gerst will transfer a degraded pump module from its temporary stowage location to its long-term home on the External Stowage Platform-2. The two spacewalkers also will install the Mobile Transporter Relay Assembly (MTRA) that provides backup power options to the Mobile Transporter railcar system, which moves the Mobile Servicing System’s Canadarm2 and Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator to worksites along the station’s truss.


Image above: Inside the International Space Station's Quest airlock, Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman works on the spacesuit that Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst will wear during Tuesday's spacewalk. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore, who will be at the controls of Canadarm2 inside the station cupola to provide support for Tuesday’s spacewalk, joined his astronaut crewmates for a review of the robotic operations.

Wilmore will be joining Wiseman on the second Expedition 41 spacewalk set for Oct. 15, to replace a voltage regulator that failed back in May. And on Oct. 22, Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev will conduct the first Russian spacewalk of Expedition 41.

Wilmore performed some maintenance on the Aquatic Habitat currently housing a school of fish popularly known as zebra danios for the Zebrafish Muscle study. The goal of this experiment is to determine whether zebrafish muscles weaken in microgravity similarly to human muscles and, if so, isolate the cause. Results from the Zebrafish Muscle investigation may help identify molecular changes involved in the deterioration of muscles exposed to microgravity and could provide benefits to patients on extended bed rest and astronauts on long-duration missions in space.


Image above: One of the Expedition 41 crew members aboard the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of 222 nautical miles above a point in the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles off the coast of Africa near the Tropic of Cancer, photographed this eye-catching panorama of the night sky on Sept. 27. Image Credit: NASA.

Gerst participated in a periodic fitness evaluation as he worked out on the station’s exercise bike – the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization. Wilmore assisted his German crewmate by initiating blood pressure and electrocardiogram measurements to help the flight surgeons benchmark the crew’s cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health.

Gerst also donned monitors to track his body’s core temperature over a 36-hour period for the Circadian Rhythms study. Because the station orbits the Earth every 92 minutes and experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets every day, the astronauts do not have the same day/night cues that people have on Earth. Results from this investigation will provide insights into the adaptations of the human autonomic nervous system in space and will help optimize crew schedules and workplace illumination.

Wiseman activated a botanical study known as Biological Research in Canisters-19, or BRIC-19. This experiment is taking a look at the development in microgravity of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings, commonly referred to as Mouse-ear cress. The seedlings will be preserved and returned to Earth for genetic analysis and comparison with a control set of seedlings germinated in normal gravity.

On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineer Elena Serova participated in the Cardiovector experiment, which takes a look at the adaptation of the heart to long-duration spaceflight. Samokutyaev meanwhile performed the Virtual study, a Russian investigation into the human body’s sensory adaptations to weightlessness.

Commander Suraev spent part of his day transferring water from the Progress 56 cargo ship attached to the Pirs docking compartment. Progress 56, which is set to depart in late October, delivered nearly three tons of supplies when it docked to the station on July 23.

Related links:

International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer, or ISS-RapidScat: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/iss-rapidscat/

Zebrafish Muscle study: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/65.html

Circadian Rhythms study: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/892.html

Biological Research in Canisters-19, or BRIC-19: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1082.html

For more information about the International Space Station (ISS), visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

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