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Science and Solar Array Troubleshooting for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Dec 5, 2009 9:31 am via: NASA
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(NASA) – Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev will be performing numerous science experiments encompassing life science, Earth science and robotics. They also will take a closer look at a solar array that hasn’t latched properly.

Butterflies are emerging from their cocoons inside the station’s Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus. Two types of butterflies, the Painted Lady and Monarch, and their ability to grow and develop while in microgravity are being studied. This experiment is being performed in conjunction with students and teachers on the ground. These are the first ever Monarch butterflies in space, and the first Painted Lady butterflies ever to undergo all phases of development (larva, pupae, adult) in microgravity. Monarchs usually live about two weeks on Earth, but these are expected to live about four days in space because of the cramped quarters. Painted Lady butterflies usually live 10-14 days on Earth, and are expected to live about a week in orbit. An interesting observation was that the Monarch wings usually take three to six minutes to dry after emergence, but in orbit it took about 15 minutes.

The International Space Station is pictured from space shuttle Atlantis after undocking on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station is pictured from space shuttle Atlantis after undocking on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Credit: NASA

About 2,800 teachers (representing more than 173,700 students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia) have registered to participate in the educational experiment.

Over the weekend photographs will be taken of preselected points on Earth to document oceanic and atmospheric conditions, including human activity and its effect on the environment. Scenic areas as well as areas of industrial activity will be photographed and videotaped then examined by scientists on Earth.

An autonomous satellite experiment, or SPHERES, is being set up by Williams for a bonus session on Saturday and participation with high school students in Wednesday’s session. SPHERES studies small “bowling ball-sized” autonomous satellites moving inside the station and how they interact with each other and human input using a graphical interface.

A solar array panel on the port side of the International Space Station did not latch properly preventing it from tracking the sun. Controllers have parked the port solar array in place for now. The rest of the solar arrays continue to generate enough power for the station. Engineers on the ground are troubleshooting the issue while the crew photographs the area in question for inspection on the ground.

Maintenance continues onboard the orbiting laboratory as Williams scrubs U.S. spacesuit cooling loops and Suraev cleans filters and fans.

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