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Station Crew Participates in Spinal Study

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:44 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 34 crew participated in wide array of research studies Wednesday, taking advantage of the International Space Station’s weightless environment to study processes normally cloaked by gravity, while on the exterior of the complex testing continued for developing techniques to service satellites with robots.

Following the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control centers around the world, Commander Kevin Ford of NASA began his workday downloading data from an acoustic dosimeter he wore for 24 hours to measure the noise levels he was exposed to. Afterward Ford worked with the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test science payload, which takes a look at colloids — microscopic particles suspended in a liquid — and may lead to improvements in manufacturing processes here on Earth.

Ford also performed a spinal ultrasound scan on fellow NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, a flight engineer. It has been observed that astronauts grow up to three percent taller during their long duration missions aboard the station and return to their normal height when back on Earth. The Spinal Ultrasound investigation is studying the impact of this change on the spine and advancing medical imaging technologies.

Ford and Marshburn later collected air velocity measurements throughout the complex to ensure that the station’s ventilation system is operating sufficiently. In the absence of gravity, dangerous pockets of carbon dioxide can build up without proper air flow through the modules.

Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency focused most of his time on continuing his work to remove and replace the Service and Performance Checkout Unit Heat Exchanger inside the Quest airlock.

Over in the Russian segment of the station, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, all flight engineers, wrapped up the semi-annual maintenance on the Treadmill with Vibration Isolation System, assuring that this device, one of a number of exercise machines aboard the station, remains available for the crew’s required daily two-hour exercise regimen.

Tarelkin also checked out the Coulomb Crystal experiment, which gathers data about charged particles in a weightless environment, while Romanenko participated in the Sprut-2 experiment, which studies the hydration of the human body and its relation to post-flight orthostatic tolerance.

Romanenko rounded out his day stowing trash and unneeded items inside the ISS Progress 48 cargo craft for disposal when that vehicle completes its mission at the station in February and undocks from the station’s Pirs docking compartment for a destructive re-entry.

Meanwhile out on the station’s starboard truss, the ground-commanded Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) kicked off its fourth day of operations. Flight controllers are commanding the Dextre robot, the Canadian Space Agency’s twin-armed “handyman,” to perform simulated satellite servicing tasks. The RRM team is demonstrating and testing the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically service and refuel satellites in space, especially satellites not originally designed to be serviced.

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