Work to understand how fires behave in a weightless environment, observations of Comet Hale-Bopp and checkout of a vision system designed to aid in the construction of the International Space Station were among the tasks accomplished today by Discovery’s six-person crew.
Following what has been another busy day of on orbit operations, Commander Curt Brown, Pilot Kent Rominger along with Mission Specialists Jan Davis, Robert Curbeam, Steve Robinson and Canadian Payload Specialist Bjarni Tryggvason will shortly begin an eight hour sleep period at 5:41 p.m. CDT.
Early today, Rominger worked with a controlled flame experiment called the Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE). This experiment is designed to understand how flames behave in space and increase basic understanding of the combustion process. The SSCE is a continuation of the combustion investigation efforts that were performed last month by the STS-94 crew on the re-flight of the Microgravity Sciences Laboratory mission.
Davis and Robinson spent part of their day performing a checkout of the Space Vision System (SVS). The SVS system involves a series of dots strategically placed on various payload and vehicle structures that payload bay cameras can see to create a graphic digital display on a laptop computer. An astronaut operating the mechanical arm can use that display for precise alignment and pointing with payloads being moved in the cargo bay. The SVS system will be used during the assembly of components of the future International Space Station.
Also related to upcoming ISS activities was Tryggvason’s continued efforts with the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Mount, or MIM, payload. The MIM payload uses magnets to levitate a platform and protect sensitive microgravity processing experiments from vibrations created by station operations.
Robinson spent his afternoon with the setup and operation of a small ultraviolet imaging telescope to view Comet Hale-Bopp. The Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWUIS) telescope was mounted to the orbiter’s side hatch window. Over the course of two orbits, Robinson used the telescope with different filters to gather data on what the comet is made of and how it is responding to solar wind conditions. As part of the SWUIS operations, the shuttle’s robot arm was strategically placed to provide shading of orbiter windows during the telescope’s observations. Three more pairs of observations are planned during the flight.
Curbeam continued his work with the Bioreactor Demonstration System payload - a cell biology experiment which has flown previously on the Shuttle. On this flight, Curbeam is using BDS to grow colon cancer cells to a larger size than can be done on Earth. It is hoped that future BDS experiments on the International Space Station will help investigators learn how to stop the growth and kill these cells in the human body.
Periodic firings of the Shuttle’s maneuvering jets were done today to ensure Discovery stays within the desired distance range to the CRISTA-SPAS satellite which was deployed on launch day. The satellite is using three telescopes and four spectrometers to measure infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s middle atmosphere. The data gathered will help investigators from 15 countries to understand how small-scale tracer "filaments" in the stratosphere contribute to transport of ozone and chemical compounds that affect the distribution of ozone.
The STS-85 crew is scheduled to be awakened at 1:41 a.m. CDT tomorrow morning.
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