Preparations for a spacewalk and continuing transfer work will be the focus of activity on board Atlantis/Mir today.
As their crew mates move logistical supplies, water, experiment hardware and other equipment between Atlantis and Mir, Astronauts Scott Parazynski and Vladimir Titov will ready themselves for Wednesday’s planned spacewalk. Parazynski and Titov will unstow their spacesuits and check out some of the tools, tethers and other equipment they will be using during the spacewalk.
During the five-hour excursion, they will retrieve four suitcase-sized experiments called the Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) that have been gathering data on the environment surrounding the space station since being installed in March 1996 by Astronauts Linda Godwin and Rich Clifford. They also will tether a solar array cap to the docking module for use during a future Mir EVA. The cap is designed to seal off the base of the damaged solar array on the Spektr module if and when cosmonauts jettison that array.
Transfer items today will include additional containers of water, an old Elektron oxygen-generating unit, and an experiment which studies circadian rhythms. The Beetle experiment was designed to study how a simple organism, such as the black-bodied beetle, responds to changes in the time cues, such as light or dark, that influence the internal body clock. In humans, these changes in circadian rhythms are often manifested as jet lag or lethargy and are often observed in shift workers.
The astronauts and cosmonauts also will take time today to discuss their mission in interviews scheduled with CNN, PBS and Russian media.
Plans are still being refined to allow the cosmonauts to install a new computer in Mir on Wednesday prior to the start of Titov and Parazynski’s spacewalk. It could take most of the day for software to be reloaded in the new computer, but no Mir systems performance should be affected since Atlantis will be maintaining attitude for the joint spacecraft.
The Atlantis-Mir space complex is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 215 nautical miles with both spacecraft’s systems operating in excellent shape.
The next STS-86 status report will be issued about 8 p.m. CDT today.
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