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CubeSat Deployments, Radiation Checks and Departure Preps For Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:27 pm via: NASA
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More micro-satellites were being released into space Tuesday as part of this week’s round of NanoRacks CubeSat deployments. The six-member Expedition 38 crew also worked on more life sciences experiments observing how the human body adapts to long-term microgravity.

The Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform, in the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm outside the Kibo laboratory, released more NanoRacks CubeSats Tuesday. The tiny satellites, about four inches tall, are providing researchers opportunities for Earth observations.

Meanwhile, the international lab residents, in cooperation with scientists on the ground, continue studying the effects of a long-term space mission on a crew member’s body. They are looking at how microgravity affects muscle and bone density, mental acuity and the cardio-vascular system among other body functions.

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata started his day with a short self-test for the Reaction study. The experiment seeks to assess fatigue levels to help crew members maximize their performance. Afterward, he opened up the Combustion Integrated Rack for maintenance inside the research device.

NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins took turns measuring their body mass and participating in fitness evaluations. The duo attached themselves to the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) which applies a known force to crew member and uses the resulting speed to calculate body mass. SLAMMD is accurate to within a half-pound.

Hopkins later rotated out an avionics rack in the Destiny laboratory to remove a backup audio circuit. He also logged his diet and tested urine samples for the Pro-K nutrition study, which seeks a dietary countermeasure to prevent bone loss while living in space.

Mastracchio set up sensors throughout the station for the Radi-N2 Neutron Field study. Those sensors will reveal the neutron environment in the station and the radiation that the crew members are exposed to.

The cosmonauts in the station’s Russian segment are also performing their own radiation detection experiment, called Matroyshka. For that study, veteran Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin checked measurements from sensors attached to a device made from materials that simulate human tissue.

Cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy had time set aside for reviewing Soyuz descent procedures and conducting other preparations for their upcoming departure. The duo including Hopkins are scheduled to end their mission and return to Earth March 10 when they undock from the Poisk mini-research module inside the Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft.

Meanwhile, their replacements are in Star City, Russia, studying for final exams and conducting robotics training. Expedition 39/40 crew members Steve Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev are scheduled to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft March 25 for a six-hour ride to the orbital laboratory.

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