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Station Crew Conducts Science, Preps for Return Home

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:30 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 31 crew of the International Space Station conducted physics and medical research Tuesday and prepared for the return home of three of its six crew members after more than half a year in space.

Flight Engineer Don Pettit spent much of his day with the Miscible Fluids in Microgravity experiment, which studies the behavior in space of fluids that normally dissolve completely into each other here on Earth.

Pettit rounded out his workday with some troubleshooting on the atomic clocks associated with the free-flying, bowling-ball-sized robots known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. Since 2003, Expedition crews aboard the station have operated these robots to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

Flight Engineer Joe Acaba replaced components in the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus in the Combustion Integrated Rack, preparing that system for an upcoming checkout and experiment operations. Acaba also performed additional maintenance on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, which is a machine that allows the crew to perform weightlifting exercises in a weightless environment.

Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers participated in several medical experiments studying the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. Kuipers collected and processed saliva, blood and urine samples and stored them in the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS to preserve them for additional study by scientists back on Earth.

Later, Kuipers joined Pettit and Acaba in the Destiny laboratory to answer questions from students participating in the “Destination Imagination” educational program in Philadelphia.

In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Oleg Kononenko focused on packing items into the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft in which he, Pettit and Kuipers will return to Earth after 193 days in space. After undocking from the station at 12:48 a.m. EDT Sunday, the trio will land in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 3:14 a.m. (2:14 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka, who will command the Expedition 32 crew when Kononenko departs, spent part of his day Tuesday stowing 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.

The third Russian crew member, Flight Engineer Sergei Revin, worked with an experiment known as Relaxation, which examines chemical luminescent reactions from jet engine exhaust in the Earth’s atmosphere, as well as the Seiner Earth-observation experiment.

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