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Station Crew Wraps up Week of Space Science

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:15 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 31 crew of the International Space Station wrapped up the workweek Friday with science experiments and a checkout of life-support hardware for future deep space missions.

Commander Oleg Kononenko worked with an experiment known as Relaxation, which examines chemical luminescent reactions from jet engine exhaust in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Later Kononenko and Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka donned Lower Body Negative Pressure outfits that simulate gravity’s effect on the body by drawing the body’s fluids to the lower half of the body. Russian researchers collect this data to predict how the cosmonauts will adjust to the return to Earth’s gravity at the end of their mission. Kononenko, along with Flight Engineers Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit, will be returning to Earth on July 1 aboard their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft after 193 days in space.

The third Russian crew member, Flight Engineer Sergei Revin, stowed items aboard the ISS Progress 47 cargo craft for disposal when that vehicle is deorbited for a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere in late July.

Pettit conducted an assessment of the overall cleanliness of the station as he collected surface swabs and air samples to test for microbial contamination. Pettit then moved on to Sprint, an experiment that measures the effectiveness of high-intensity, low-volume exercise training in minimizing the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs during long-term exposure to weightlessness.

Meanwhile Flight Engineer Joe Acaba checked out Amine Swingbed hardware. This technology experiment is testing a smaller, more efficient carbon dioxide removal system than the ones current aboard station. Size and efficiency are key factors as NASA begins building the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that will take astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

Kuipers spent part of his day loading software on a laptop computer associated with EXPRESS Rack 4, a phone-booth-sized rack that can house and control a variety of different experiments. He also assisted Pettit with a blood draw for the Human Research Facility.

Kuipers, Pettit and Acaba teamed up for a joint conference call with aquanaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger who is currently working aboard the Aquarius undersea laboratory off the coast of Florida. As part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations Project (NEEMO) 16, she and her crewmates are conducting a simulated mission to an asteroid, investigating operational and technical concepts associated with space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

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