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Botany, Medical Research Aboard Station Wednesday

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:54 pm via: NASA
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The six-person Expedition 40 crew reaped a full harvest of science Tuesday aboard the International Space Station with botanical and medical research, while preparations continue for an upcoming spacewalk.

Following the crew’s daily planning conference with the flight control teams around the world, Commander Steve Swanson began his workday removing and replacing tubing inside the Water Recovery System. Part of the station’s Environment Control and Life Support System, the Water Recovery System recycles condensation and urine into drinkable water.

Some 228 nautical miles above the home planet, one of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station photographed this view of a sun-kissed solar array wing and a photovoltaic radiator (top) on the orbital outpost on June 3, 2014.

Some 228 nautical miles above the home planet, one of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station photographed this view of a sun-kissed solar array wing and a photovoltaic radiator (top) on the orbital outpost on June 3, 2014.

Afterward, the commander retrieved a chamber containing seedlings that were germinating at +2 C inside the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI. Swanson placed the sample chamber into the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, which includes a centrifuge for controlled gravity levels. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Resist Tubule experiment, which studies the mechanisms for gravity resistance in plants, will help researchers learn more about the evolution of plants and enable efficient plant production both on Earth and in space.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst participated in the Body Measures experiment, which collects detailed measurements of the astronauts’ bodies to help researchers understand the magnitude and variability of the changes to body size during spaceflight. Predicting these changes will maximize crew performance, prevent injury and reduce time spent altering or adjusting spacesuits and workstations. The investigation also could help scientists understand the effects of prolonged bed rest, which produces physiological changes similar to those experienced in microgravity.

Gerst later joined up with Swanson to train for the robotic capture of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo ship, now scheduled to launch on the Orb-2 commercial resupply services mission no earlier than July 1. When Cygnus rendezvous with station, the crew will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Cygnus for its berthing to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node.

Swanson spent his afternoon harvesting a crop of six red romaine lettuce plants that were grown from seed inside the station’s Veggie facility, a low-cost plant growth chamber that uses a flat-panel light bank for plant growth and crew observation. For the Veg-01 experiment, researchers are testing and validating the Veggie hardware, and the plants will be returned to Earth to determine food safety.  After placing the harvested lettuce into MELFI, Swanson cleaned and dried the Veggie hardware.

Swanson rounded out his day gathering tools and reviewing procedures for some work he will perform Wednesday to configure the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus Chamber Insert Assembly for the Flame Extinguishment Experiment-2.

Wiseman meanwhile donned sensors for a 36-hour data collection period of the Circadian Rhythms study. The knowledge gleaned from this experiment not only will provide important insights into the adaptations of the human autonomic nervous system in space over time, but also has practical implications by helping to optimize crew schedules and workplace illumination.

Wiseman then deployed eight neutron monitors for the RaDI-N radiation detection study. Results from RaDI-N will help researchers accurately measure the risk assessment of neutron radiation in space and reduce the astronauts’ exposure to radiation on future missions.

On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev focused on preparations for a planned 6 ½-hour spacewalk they will conduct next week to mount a new integrated command and telemetry system on the Zvezda service module and replace a payload rack on the Russian segment with a payload boom previously installed in a temporary location.

The two cosmonauts configured their Russian Orlan spacesuits and looked through the station’s windows to review the worksites for the spacewalk, which is slated to begin on June 19 at 9:50 a.m. EDT.

The third cosmonaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Max Suraev, conducted a leak check of the cooling loops in Zvezda.  Later he deployed new radiation dosimeters for the Matryoshka experiment.

As the newest crew members, Suraev, Gerst and Wiseman also had an hour set aside on their own to learn the ropes of their new orbital home.  The trio arrived on May 28 aboard the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft to begin a 5 ½-month stay on the station.

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