With Columbia’s primary payload continuing its autonomous research, the STS-87 crew focused its attention on middeck experiments associated with plant growth, combustion science and composite materials investigations.
The United States Microgravity Payload experiments continue to operate with the focus on the solidification of semiconductor materials in the Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace. Scientists hope to use the results to develop better methods of controlling the solidification process in space and in factories here on Earth.
Mission specialist Kalpana Chawla today focused her attention on the Enclosed Laminar Flames experiment studying the effects of different air flow velocities on the stability of an enclosed jet diffusion flame. This type of flame is used in industrial combustion processes and jet aircraft afterburners. Researchers hope to optimize the performance of such flames for industrial purposes such as reducing pollution emissions and heat transfer.
In addition to the experiment work, commander Kevin Kregel conducted a status check on the Spartan satellite and its supporting rendezvous software to provide additional data to investigators on the ground to determine the health of the spacecraft in preparation for its possible redeployment later in the flight.
Mission managers will not decide until Monday whether another deploy is in the offing. Requirements for redeploy include a healthy satellite and sufficient propellant margins on the Space Shuttle to accommodate a rendezvous and capture. This capture would likely involve a second spacewalk with astronauts in the payload bay capturing and securing the satellite.
Payload specialist Leonid Kadenyuk continued to work with the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment studying plant growth in weightlessness. Students in the U.S. and Ukraine plan to compare their ground-based experiment results with those recorded by Kadenyuk on orbit.
Crew sleep is scheduled for about 10 a.m. with the musical wakeup call from Mission Control scheduled for 5:45 this afternoon.
The next mission status report will be issued shortly after the crew wakeup call.
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