The STS-107 scientific research mission aboard Columbia passed the halfway mark today as the 80 microgravity investigations continue on schedule.
Highlighting the investigations today for both the Blue and Red Teams were the SOFBALL (Structures of Flame Balls) and ARMS (Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System) experiments, although both teams continued to support other experiments with a variety of activities.
Mission Specialists Michael Anderson of the Blue Team and Kalpana Chawla of the Red Team initiated runs with the SOFBALL experiment, which is creating tiny ball-shaped flames using hydrogen as the fuel. The tiny flames, which are approaching some of the leanest and longest-lasting ever, are invisible to the human eye but visible to the crew and investigators on the ground through special video equipment. Dr. Paul Ronney of the University of Southern California and his team hope to discover new properties about combustion to improve engine efficiency and fire safety, as well as reduce emissions.
Mission Specialist Dave Brown of the Blue Team and Israeli Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon of the Red Team concentrated on the Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System. The European Space Agency experiment alternated experiments targeting the human lung and circulatory system and the human muscular system as it looked at changes brought on by weightlessness.
Commander Rick Husband, leader of the Red Team, and Pilot Willie McCool, leader of the Blue Team, adjusted Columbia’s attitude relative to the Earth to support the different requirements of the experiments. They continued to manage the temperature inside the Spacehab Research Double Module in the wake of problems incurred with cooling systems. No experiments have or are expected to be affected by the cooling issue.
Red Team Mission Specialist Laurel Clark, a medical doctor, worked with the Bioreactor Demonstration System, which is growing tissue samples as part of a prostate cancer study. She also beamed down data from the Astroculture experiment growing roses and rice flowers for commercial fragrance development. Clark also worked with bacteria and yeast cultures being grown as part of a Microbial Physiology Flight Experiment that looks at the effect of microgravity on antibiotics.
In honor of the combustion experiments on this flight, the Blue Team’s wake-up call this afternoon was “Burning Down the House,” by the Talking Heads.
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and ISS Science Officer Don Pettit spent their 61st day in space and their 59th day on the station practicing techniques with the Canadarm2 robot arm. This activity was in preparation for the March mission of Atlantis to the ISS that will involve a variety of uses for the space crane.
Columbia and the ISS are both operating in normal fashion, with the Shuttle orbiting at an altitude of 180 statute miles in an orbit inclined 39 degrees to either side of the equator and the station orbiting at an altitude of 240 statute miles in an orbit inclined 51.6 degrees to either side of the equator.
The next STS-107 status report will be issued Friday afternoon, or earlier, if events warrant.
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