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Robonaut and Spacewalk Preps for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Aug 6, 2013 7:40 pm via: NASA
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The half-dozen humans living and working aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 36 crew spent Tuesday focused on robotic technology demonstrations, scientific research and preparations for a pair of upcoming Russian spacewalks.

Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy spent much of his morning working with Robonaut 2, the humanoid robot he set up in the Destiny laboratory on Monday for its latest round of tests.  Donning tele-operation gear consisting of a vest, gloves and visor, Cassidy was able to manipulate the Robonaut’s head, neck, arms and fingers telerobotically through his own movements as well as through verbal commands.

With this session of Robonaut testing completed, Cassidy then disassembled and stowed the robot.  Since its arrival to the station aboard space shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission in 2011, Robonaut has provided critical data for researchers who are perfecting techniques to remotely operate robots in orbit from the ground.

Cassidy also collected and tested water samples from the Water Processor Assembly using the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer, making sure that the station’s reclaimed water remained free of contaminants. Part of the Water Recovery System (WRS) that recycles wastewater into clean water, the Water Processor removes free gas and solid materials such as hair and lint, before the water goes through a series of multifiltration beds for further purification.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano performed maintenance on another part of the WRS as he replaced a Pressure Control and Pump Assembly for the Urine Processing Assembly that failed late last week. Parmitano also continued troubleshooting a camera port in the Quest airlock that recently experienced difficulty transmitting a clean picture.

Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg worked with the Marangoni Inside experiment housed inside the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility of the Kibo laboratory.  Marangoni convection is the flow driven by the presence of a surface tension gradient, which can be produced by temperature difference at a liquid/gas interface. Scientists are studying these flow patterns to learn more about how heat is transferred in microgravity.

Nyberg and Cassidy took a break from their work to join NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and members of the news media and public gathered at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the first anniversary of the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars.  The two astronauts discussed how the scientific research and technology studies taking place aboard the station contribute to the path of future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

Nyberg rounded out her day organizing items stowed in the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module to make room for some of the 3.6 tons of cargo arriving Friday aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle-4, or HTV-4. Also known as Kounotori – Japanese for “white stork” – HTV-4 launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Saturday at 3:48 p.m. EDT (4:48 a.m. Sunday, Japan time). Nyberg and Cassidy will use Canadarm2, the station’s Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm, to reach out and capture the vehicle at 7:29 a.m. Friday for its installation on the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

NASA Television coverage of the rendezvous and capture of HTV-4  will begin at 6 a.m. Friday. Coverage of the final installation of the resupply craft to Harmony will resume at 9 a.m.

On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin continued preparations for a pair of spacewalks they will conduct on August 16 and 22 to deploy experiments and connect cables for the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module set to arrive later this year. The two cosmonauts gathered equipment for their Russian Orlan spacesuits as well as tools they will use during the spacewalks.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov meanwhile continued unloading some of the nearly three tons of supplies from the ISS Progress 52 cargo craft, which docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment less than six hours after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 27.

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