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Sloshing Robots and Spacewalk Preps Aboard Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:32 pm via: NASA
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The six-person Expedition 38 crew tackled a full agenda of science and spacewalk preparations Wednesday aboard the International Space Station orbiting 260 miles above the Earth.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins continued his participation in the Energy experiment as researchers attempt to measure how much energy astronauts use during long-duration spaceflight and track changes in their energy balance. Results from this study will contribute to crew health and performance and also will ensure that crew members are getting the proper amount of exercise and food.

Afterward Hopkins participated in another medical exam for the Ocular Health study. Vision changes have been observed in some astronauts returning from long-duration spaceflight, and researchers want to learn more about its root causes and develop countermeasures to minimize this risk. With assistance from the Ocular Health team on the ground and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata, Hopkins measured his blood pressure and checked the pressure inside his eyes with a tonometer.

Wakata, who began his day with the ongoing Reaction self-test that tracks the effects of fatigue in astronauts, later moved on to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s advanced photography project, COSMO. Working inside the station’s seven-windowed cupola, Wakata set up the camera to capture imagery of Hawaii, Australia, California and auroras over Canada.

Hopkins meanwhile joined Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio in the Kibo laboratory for a new experiment using the soccer-ball-sized, free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, which were already aboard the station. For the SPHERES-Slosh experiment, two SPHERES robots are attached to opposite ends of a metal frame holding a plastic tank partially filled with green-colored water. By studying how liquids slosh around inside a container in microgravity, researchers will learn more about how rocket fuels move around inside their tanks in response to motor thrusts used to push a rocket through space, which in turn can lead to improved fuel efficiency and lower costs for satellite launches. The new hardware for the SPHERES-Slosh study was delivered to the station aboard Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft on Jan. 12.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy continued preparations for a spacewalk they will conduct on Monday. The two cosmonauts performed leak checks on their Orlan spacesuits, reviewed procedures and checked out video equipment they will use during the planned six-hour excursion to reinstall a pair of high-fidelity cameras as part of a commercial endeavor between a Canadian firm and the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Live NASA Television coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 8:30 a.m. EST Monday, with hatch opening scheduled for 9:10 a.m.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin participated in another session with the Interactions experiment, which studies the impacts of personal, cultural and national differences among crew members. Tyurin also spent some time familiarizing himself with the KAPLYA-2 experiment, which is studying the fluid motion and heat transfer of monodisperse drop flows in space.

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