Columbia’s astronauts spent another busy day in space conducting science investigations in a unique hands-on facility and tested a specially designed vest that could assist in assessing the risk of decompression sickness by astronauts during spacewalks.
Mission specialist Kalpana Chawla completed her work in the microgravity glovebox processing 13 samples of the Wetting Characteristics of Immiscibles experiment. WCI is designed to help scientists learn how to better control the formation of special metal alloys by studying the mixing process in microgravity. The alloys are important for use in ball bearings, electronics and semiconductors. Throughout her work, pilot Steve Lindsey took periodic temperature measurements in and around the unit.
Scott and Doi filled out a questionnaire from the extravehicular activity team in Mission Control and sent down additional footage shot during the nearly eight hour spacewalk Monday. The video will be useful in evaluating the tasks that they accomplished in support of future EVA operations during assembly of the International Space Station.
Also today, the crew tested a special vest called the In-Suit Doppler System that uses ultrasound to listen for microbubbles in the bloodstream. Astronauts now lower the shuttle’s cabin pressure and pre-breathe pure oxygen before a space walk to purge nitrogen bubbles from their bloodstreams to prevent decompression sickness known as "the bends." Doctors hope to gather data on how to reduce the duration of pre-breathe required before spacewalks.
In addition to Chawla’s work in the glovebox, payload specialist Leonid Kadenyuk continued his work with the plant growth Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment. Students in the U.S. and Ukraine also are participating in comparative Earth-based plant growth studies.
Commander Kevin Kregel and Kadenyuk received a call from Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and answered questions from media in Kiev. The conversations focused on Kadenyuk’s first flight into space and the work ongoing to support the mission objectives.
The United States Microgravity Payload experiments continued in the payload bay without problems, and all of Columbia’s systems are in excellent shape.
The next mission status report will be issued at about 6 p.m.
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