Headlines > News > Physics Research, Remote Robotics Competition on Station Tuesday

Physics Research, Remote Robotics Competition on Station Tuesday

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:11 am via: NASA
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Tuesday marked another busy day for Expedition 28 aboard the International Space Station as the six crew members conducted scientific research, transferred cargo and worked to keep their orbiting laboratory in shipshape condition.

Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa worked with the Shear History Extensional Rheology Experiment, or SHERE, which studies the effect of rotation on the stress and strain response of a polymer fluid being stretched in microgravity. Understanding this process is a critical step in the evolution of containerless processing and the ability to fabricate new parts and tools on future missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

In the Kibo module, Flight Engineer Ron Garan activated bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, for a student competition. During the Zero Robotics Summer SPHERES Challenge, students from five middle school programs in Massachusetts remotely operated the satellites through a series of maneuvers and objectives. Inspired by the practice “remote” that Luke Skywalker used to hone his light saber skills in “Star Wars,” these robots have been operated by station crew members beginning with Expedition 8 to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

Flight Engineer Mike Fossum performed scheduled yearly maintenance on the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System. Also known as CEVIS, this stationary bicycle is just one of a suite of exercise devices available to the crew as part of a daily two-hour exercise regimen to reduce the loss of bone density and muscle mass that typically occurs during long-duration spaceflight.

Later, Fossum unpacked and stowed supplies from the ISS Progress 42 cargo craft that has been docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment since April 29.

In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Andrey Borisenko conducted another run with the Coulomb Crystal experiment, which gathers data about charged particles inside the microgravity environment of the space station.

Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev teamed up for an experiment aimed at developing methods and instruments to detect loss of pressurization of a station module. During this particular session, the two cosmonauts took a close look at the Zvezda service module’s surface area to identify signs of microbial growth. Monitoring problem areas helps predict the destruction rate of the shell and can lead to countermeasures that extend station life.

Afterward, Volkov spent much of his afternoon transferring unneeded hardware and trash into the ISS Progress 43 cargo craft for disposal when it undocks Aug. 23 from the aft end of the Zvezda service module and descends into the Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery demise over the Pacific Ocean. Its departure will clear the way for ISS Progress 44, scheduled to launch Aug. 24 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

In addition to their regular duties, the station’s residents had several opportunities to observe and photograph the condition of our home planet as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes. Several sites in South America were suggested by researchers Tuesday, including the capital city of La Paz, Bolivia, and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field between Argentina and Chile.

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