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Robotics and Seismic Research Aboard Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:45 pm via: NASA
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The six astronauts and cosmonauts of the International Space Station’s Expedition 38 crew spent their Tuesday preparing for the arrival of a visiting vehicle, checking out some free-flying robots and setting up an experiment that could lead to better predictions of earthquakes.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins began his day checking out a hardware command panel that will be used to communicate with Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo vehicle during its rendezvous with the station for the Orbital 1 Commercial Resupply Services flight.

Cygnus is scheduled to launch atop an Antares rocket on Dec. 18 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. When the commercial cargo craft approaches the station on Dec. 21, the astronauts will use the station’s 57-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the vehicle for its installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio conducted an inventory of medical supplies used for human research experiments aboard the complex.

Afterward, Mastracchio joined Hopkins for a test run with a pair of soccer-ball-sized, free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The two astronauts put the mini-satellites through their paces inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory to test several components for an upcoming Zero Robotics high school tournament. During these games scheduled to take place in January, teams of students will compete to see whose algorithms do the best job of commanding the SPHERES to perform tasks such as capturing objects with a lasso and maneuvering through a debris field.

Hopkins also weighed himself with the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device, or SLAMMD. As a traditional scale will not work in the weightless environment of the station, SLAMMD generates a known force against an astronaut attached to an extension arm and calculates the body mass using Newton’s Second Law. The device is accurate to within a half a pound over a range from 90 pounds to 240 pounds.

Inside the station’s seven-windowed cupola, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata set up an ultra-high definition camera to capture night views of the Earth and images of Comet Lovejoy.

Wakata later replaced a manifold bottle in the Combustion Integrated Rack. This facility, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control and five different cameras, allows a variety of combustion experiments to be performed safely aboard the station.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov continued unloading cargo from the Progress 53 cargo vehicle that docked to the station on Nov. 29.

Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy and Mikhail Tyurin spent their morning installing hardware and routing cables in the Zvezda service module for Seismoprognoz, a Russian experiment that seeks to develop and validate techniques for monitoring the precursors of earthquakes, which could lead to a global earthquake prediction system.

Tyurin also performed routine maintenance on the life support system inside Zvezda.

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