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Robonaut Tests, Science and Maintenance for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:08 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 29 crew members living and working aboard the International Space Station conducted a series of robotic checkouts Thursday as they continued their daily regimen of science experiments and maintenance work.

Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa assembled Robonaut 2 and powered it up to perform vision tests and check out sensors in the humanoid robot’s arms. Engineers on the ground sent the commands for the tests, which involved stretching out the arms for the first time in space. Robonaut 2 was delivered to the station on the STS-133 mission of space shuttle Discovery earlier this year.

Robonaut is the first humanoid robot in space, and although its primary job for now is teaching engineers how dexterous robots behave in space, the hope is that through upgrades and advancements, it could one day venture outside the station to help spacewalkers make repairs or additions to the station or perform scientific work.

Fossum worked with the Preliminary Advanced Colloids Experiment, or PACE, which studies the behavior of particles suspended in fluid in the space environment. He also checked the functionality of the USB microscope in the CubeLab payload, which investigates microscopic interaction and behavior of particles in microgravity.

Furukawa participated in an educational activity as he assembled NASA-inspired models with Lego bricks to demonstrate to children and student groups the challenges faced when building things in a weightless environment.

Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov worked inside the Poisk module conducting the Coulomb Crystal experiment. The Russian investigation will determine how a magnetic field can control materials that do not mix or react. Results may have applications for advanced solar batteries, cleaning dust from microchips and designing nanocrystals.

Volkov also watered and took photos of wheat plants as part of the ongoing Russian Plants-2 experiment, which researches the growth and development of plants under spaceflight conditions in a special greenhouse facility.

Later, Furukawa had some time set aside to participate in an in-flight educational event, speaking with students at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

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