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Station Crew Continues Research, Controllers Coordinate Reboost

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:58 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 29 crew aboard the International Space Station continued a variety of research, connected with a Japanese kid’s television show and sifted through the leftovers of previous crews to make sure nothing they need or want is thrown away when the Progress 42 cargo ship departs in late October.

Commander Mike Fossum conducted a test session with the ongoing SPHERES experiment in the Kibo laboratory. Consisting of micro-satellites the size of basketballs, the experiment tests formation flying and automated rendezvous techniques using control algorithms.

Fossum set up a small microscope to view and photograph science specimens for viewing on a USB device. The purpose was to view the microscopic interaction and behavior of particles in microgravity.

Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov participated in a Russian Earth observations program that studies natural and man-made disasters from space. Uragan, or Hurricane, seeks to assist ground experts with the forecast of catastrophic events using photographic and video techniques.

Volkov worked in the International Space Station’s Russian segment cleaning and inspecting laptop computer vents. The veteran station resident also downlinked data from the Molniya-Gamma experiment which studies how thunderstorms and seismic activity affect the Earth’s atmosphere.

Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa collected leftover food packets prepared for previous station residents. The food packets were gathered and stowed for eventual disposal on the ISS Progress 42 spacecraft and the upcoming SpaceX commercial cargo vehicle.

Furukawa cleaned and inspected hatch seals in the U.S. segment of the space station. The objective of the inspection was to photograph the hatch seals and determine how often to clean them.

The Japanese television show “Grand Kids Television Show!” linked up to the station so junior high school students could interact with Furukawa as he performed simple experiments. Furukawa showed that a compass in microgravity works the same as on Earth and that a balloon attached to a weight still floats.

Urban areas targeted for Wednesday’s Crew Earth Observations program included the African cities of Luanda, Angola and Johannesburg, South Africa. Tropical Storm Philippe in the Atlantic Ocean and Hurricane Hilary in the eastern Pacific Ocean near Mexico were also targeted.

Meanwhile, flight controllers in Houston and Moscow are coordinating a combination reboost and debris avoidance maneuver on Thursday. Flight controllers have been tracking a possible close approach of a small piece of debris from a defunct Russian rocket body that has been inconsistent because of increased solar and geomagnetic activity this week. While the increased solar radiation is of no concern for crew health, it is affecting the rate at which the rocket body’s orbit changes. The size of the debris is estimated to be 4 inches (10 centimeters) in diameter.

Since a reboost maneuver already was planned next week to put the space station at the proper altitude for the planned launch of the Progress 45 cargo craft on Oct. 30, the two Mission Control teams are considering performing the reboost early, this week. That maneuver would combine the debris avoidance maneuver with the planned reboost next week to avoid making two adjustments so close to one another. If it occurs this week, the reboost will be scheduled for 12:45 p.m. EDT Thursday.

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