The seven astronauts aboard Columbia continued to conduct scientific studies 24-7 today, concentrating their efforts on combustion in weightlessness, the growth of cell cultures, and measurements of the ozone layer.
The Blue Team was awakened at 3:39 p.m. CDT to the sounds of "The Wedding Song" by Paul Stookey, uplinked from Mission Control especially for Pilot Willie McCool. McCool and Blue Team Astronauts Dave Brown and Michael Anderson will begin work after a handover at 5:24 p.m. The Red Team of Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon begins its sleep shift at 7:39 p.m.
Israel Space Agency Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon took a break from observations of thunderstorms today to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other dignitaries in Jerusalem. Ramon captured never-before-photographed lightning phenomena, known as "sprites" and "elves," in the extreme upper atmosphere using Middle Eastern Dust Experiment (MEIDEX) cameras. The experiment's primary objective is to study dust storms in the Middle East, but clouds in the region have delayed those observations thus far.
Work continued with a study of combustion in space, focusing on understanding the nature of soot. The Laminar Soot Processes experiment was operated by Ramon to burn various fuels in weightlessness and study production of soot. Weightlessness alllows the process to be studied without the interference caused by gravity-induced convection.
Other experiments run today included continued growth of prostate cancer cells in the Bioreactor Demonstration System (BDS), a device that has been shown on previous flights to grow cultures of much greater fidelity than can be produced in ground labs. The space-grown cultures may help scientists unlock lethal secrets of prostate cancer that allow it to spread through the bones and other body tissues. Mission Specialist Laurel Clark, a medical doctor, worked with the culture device today, checking its operation and photographing the tissues that have grown.
For other experiments, Commander Rick Husband steered Columbia to aim payload-bay mounted instruments to study ozone in the upper atmosphere and another experiment that studies the solar constant. The Shuttle Ozone Limb Sounding Experiment-2 (SOLSE-2) uses observations of sunlight scattering by the atmosphere to measure ozone. The Solar Constant Experiment (SOLCON) measures solar irradiance above the atmosphere.
The Blue Team will continue observations of "sprites" with the MEIDEX cameras, studies of soot with the Laminar Soot Process apparatus and examinations of bone cell activity in microgravity using the Osteoporosis Experiment in Orbit. The second half of its day will include off-duty time to help stay fresh for the extended-duration mission.
Cooling and humidity control of the Spacehab module is being managed through minor adjustments to systems aboard Columbia and the science module. The Spacehab's dehumidifiers remain off due to problems experienced in the last few days. The cooling glitch is not expected to interrupt any of the mission's ongoing research. Flight controllers are continuing to investigate options for reactivating the dehumidifiers.
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