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Eye Exams, Robotics Round Out Week Aboard Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Feb 7, 2014 10:29 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 38 crew wrapped up an eventful week Friday with more biomedical research and another round of tests with a miniature free-flying robot inside in the International Space Station.

The station flew over Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games as opening ceremonies were taking place. Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio previously tweeted images of the area along with the message, “To all the Olympic athletes in the US, @USOlympic and around the world. A shot of Sochi for you. Good luck!”

Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata began the day with his final set of medical exams this week for the Ocular Health 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 the Ocular Health team on the ground and Mastracchio, Wakata provided ultrasound imagery of his eyes, performed a cardiac scan and measured his blood pressure.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins installed a new battery for the temperature data recorder of the second Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI-2. Research samples from many of the experiments aboard the station are stored in this freezer to preserve them until they can be returned to Earth for further study.

After a break for lunch, Wakata teamed up with Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin to make sure that a Power and Data Grapple Fixture installed on the exterior of the Zarya module is ready for some upcoming tests with the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.  Wakata and Tyurin used a multimeter to measure resistance across four connector pairs in Zarya. Once proper connectivity between the individual connectors and the grapple fixture is confirmed, the Canadarm2’s Latching End Effector can be mated to the fixture for future testing in support of Russian segment spacewalks.

Hopkins spent much of his afternoon disconnecting and stowing hardware for an experiment that studied diffusion processes that are of particular interest to the petroleum industry.  The experiment known as the Selectable Optics Diagnostic Instrument – Diffusion and Soret Coefficient, or SODI-DSC, looked at diffusion in six different liquids over time in the absence of gravity-induced convection. Data from this experiment will enable scientists to develop better models to reduce the number of exploratory wells that must be drilled at a site to characterize an energy reservoir as well as predict the complex behavior of crude oils.

Hopkins and Mastracchio rounded out the day inside the Japanese Kibo module as they checked out one of a trio of bowling-ball-sized robots known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. After inspecting the battery compartment of the orange SPHERES satellite and making any needed adjustments, the two NASA astronauts put the robot through its paces to verify that it worked properly. The SPHERES satellites have been central to a wide range of activities aboard the station recently, from sloshing tests that look at how rocket fuels move around inside tanks to virtual navigation demonstrations and student robotics competitions.

Commander Oleg Kotov conducted the Aseptic investigation to study the methods and means of ensuring sterile conditions for experiments aboard the station. The commander also performed routine maintenance on the life-support system in the Zvezda service module.

Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy spent part of the day with the Cascade biotechnology experiment, which investigates cell cultivation in microgravity.

Ryazanskiy later collected micro-accelerometer data from the Identification experiment to provide insight into the station’s dynamic load following Wednesday’s docking of the ISS Progress 54 cargo craft. The Russian space freighter, loaded with 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies, docked to the Pirs docking compartment about six hours after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

With the installation of electronics box inside the Kibo lab for the small satellite deployment mechanism completed by Wakata on Thursday, plans are moving ahead for the launching of the first pair of NanoRacks CubeSats, perhaps as early as next Tuesday. A final decision is pending a review of preparedness for the deployments by Japanese flight controllers in Tsukuba and the Payload Operations team at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The deployment was originally scheduled for this week before being postponed following an alignment issue with the electronics box and the Kibo slot into which it was designed to slide.

A warm concern from space crew expedition-38 is honoured with super boom at Sochi-2014 olympics.
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