The seven astronauts aboard Columbia beamed down television views of their smallest companions in orbit today, including insects, spiders, fish, bees and silk worms that are part of the Space Technology and Research Students package of experiments designed and developed by students in six countries.
The television pictures showed ants busily creating and moving about tunnels in an ant farm developed by students from Fowler High School in Syracuse, N.Y.; Garden Orb Weaver spiders beginning to construct webs in an enclosure designed by students at Glen Waverly Secondary College of Melbourne, Australia; silkworm larvae beginning to develop in an experiment designed by students at Jingshan School, Beijing, China; Medaka fish embryos developing in a tank designed by students at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Tokyo; and carpenter bees beginning to construct nests by boring tunnels in wood.
The experiments are being monitored by both teams of astronauts as they work in shifts to support the 80 different experiments aboard the space shuttle and the Spacehab Research Double Module. The Red Team -- Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark and Israel Space Agency Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon – enjoyed a half-day off before resuming work with a variety of other experiments.
The Red Team worked with the growth of prostate cancer cells in the Bioreactor Demonstration System, shutdown of the Laminar Soot Processes experiment, which completed 14 runs in an effort to better understand the nature of soot created by combustion in microgravity, and bacteria and yeast growth as part of the Microbial Physiology Flight Experiment. They also checked on the growth of plants in the Astroculture experiment that includes miniature roses being grown in space to produce new fragrances for perfumes.
The Red Team handed over to the Blue Team – Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson and Mission Specialist Dave Brown – at 5 p.m. CST, and prepared for a sleep shift beginning at 7:09 p.m. The Blue Team awoke at 3:09 p.m. to the song “Hakuna Matata” by the Baja Men for Anderson from his two kids.
The Blue Team began its day with work on the SOFBALL, or Structures of Flame Balls at Low Lewis-number experiment, which scientists hope will improve their understanding of lean (low fuel) burning combustion and lead to improvements in engine efficiency, reduced emissions, and fire safety.
The overnight team also worked with the Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System, a European Space Agency experiment looking at how the human body adapts to weightlessness.
After lunch, the team was to calibrate the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX) and resume observations after adjusting the shuttle orientation in orbit to facilitate measurement of small particles in the atmosphere over the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Sahara desert.
Cooling and humidity control of the Spacehab module is being effectively managed through minor adjustments to systems aboard Columbia and the science module.
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