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Station Crew Works with Robotics and Science

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:21 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 34 crew members were busy with a robotics experiment and a host of other scientific research Friday as they wrapped-up another busy week aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn configured the bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, as part of the ground-based SPHERES Zero Robotics competition. During the competition, teams of high school students gathered at the European Space Research and Technology Center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., to watch the best teams’ algorithms command the free-flying robots through a series of maneuvers and objectives.

Station crews beginning with Expedition 8 have operated these robots to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

Hadfield closed out his work this week with the InSpace-3 experiment, which studies the physical property changes in fluids containing ellipsoid-shaped particles when a magnetic field is applied. These colloidal fluids are classified as smart materials, transitioning to a solid-like state in the presence of a magnetic field, and this technology may lead to the design of bridges and buildings that can better withstand earthquakes.

Marshburn tested his perception in microgravity for the Reversible Figures experiment, and later had some time scheduled to answer questions about his experiences and activities aboard the orbiting laboratory during an in-flight educational event with students at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.

Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin, Oleg Novitskiy and Roman Romanenko performed various inspections and maintenance duties in the Russian segment of the station, tagging-up with flight control teams in Russia as needed.

Novitskiy and Tarelkin spent some time with the BAR experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of an air leak from one of the station’s modules, while Romanenko and Tarelkin worked with a Russian experiment studying plasma crystal formation in microgravity.

Over the weekend, the station residents will continue ongoing scientific research and perform their regular maintenance duties. They also will enjoy some off-duty time and have an opportunity to speak with family members.

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