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Station Crew Conducts Science, Begins Unloading Russian Cargo Craft

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Feb 7, 2014 6:45 am via: NASA
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The six astronauts and cosmonauts of the Expedition 38 crew completed a range of research and maintenance activities Thursday and began unloading cargo from a newly arrived Russian space freighter.

Commander Oleg Kotov and his fellow cosmonauts aboard the station — Flight Engineers Mikhail Tyurin and Sergey Ryazanskiy – opened the hatch to the ISS Progress 54 cargo spacecraft at 7:15 a.m. EST to begin the process of unloading its 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 38 crew.

Progress 54 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:23 a.m. Wednesday (10:23 p.m. Baikonur time) and completed its 4-orbit trek at 5:22 p.m. when it docked automatically to the station’s Pirs docking compartment.

The new Progress is loaded with 1,764 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water and 2,897 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies. Progress 54 is slated to spend about two months docked to the complex before departing to make way for ISS Progress 55.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins spent much of the day inside the Tranquility module conducting some troubleshooting on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) located there. Hopkins put the CDRA into several different test configurations to allow the ground teams monitoring the telemetry to track down any leaks within the device. CDRA continues to operate, and there are other systems on the station that also remove carbon dioxide from the station’s environment.

Inside the Columbus module, Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio installed a new water sampling adapter for the Internal Thermal Control System, which uses water to maintain equipment within an allowable temperature range inside a habitable module.

Afterward, Mastracchio checked on an experiment known as the Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability, or FASES, to verify that the hardware was in the proper configuration. FASES takes a look at how stable the combination of two liquids are in space. Results from FASES will be used to develop models of the dynamics of emulsions that can be transferred to industrial applications here on Earth.

Hopkins and Mastracchio took a break from their work to participate in a special Google+ Hangout with four fitness professionals and athletes. Hopkins, a lifelong fitness enthusiast, is sharing his workouts from space via the “Train Like an Astronaut” Facebook page and YouTube. Astronauts aboard the space station work out at least two hours a day in order to minimize bone and muscle loss — an effect of extended time in a weightless environment.

Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata spent his morning working in the Japanese Kibo module to install a deployer mechanism that will be used in concert with the Kibo robotic arm to “launch” the first set of NanoRacks CubeSats. Wakata, who ran into some difficulty last week installing an electronics box that would help control the deployment of the mini-satellites, successfully installed that box after troubleshooting an alignment issue.  The deployment of the first batch of CubeSats, which had originally been scheduled for this week before being postponed following last week’s installation issue, has been postponed further to make sure that the CubeSats do not fall into the intended orbit of the Global Precipitation Measurement satellite launching later this month. The exact date of the CubeSat deployment is still being evaluated.

Wakata also participated in another series of medical examinations for the Ocular Heath study. Vision changes have been observed in up to 50 percent of 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 his crewmates and the Ocular Health team on the ground, Wakata provided detailed imagery of his eyes using optical coherence tomography equipment and a fundoscope.

Wakata rounded out his day installing a microscope for the Medaka Osteoclast-2 experiment, which uses Medaka fish as a model for understanding the causes of bone density loss during long-duration spaceflight.

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