Flight day 11 drew to a close today with the crew continuing experiment work on board while Mission Control studied options for a possible redeployment of the Spartan solar science satellite later this week.
Flight control teams continue to mull over options for a possible second deployment of the Spartan solar science satellite that would likely include a short spacewalk as well. Propellant margins and a healthy satellite continue to be the leading topics of discussion along with other experiment sample processing associated with the primary payload on the flight – the United States Microgravity Payload.
Mission managers will meet Monday morning to evaluate the options and decide on the course of action for the remaining days of Columbia’s STS-87 mission.
Today’s middeck experiments continued to look at how plant growth and composite materials are affected by microgravity. The astronauts used the globebox facility to process samples for the Particle Engulfment and Pushing by a Solid/Liquid Interface experiment. PEP is studying the formation of composite materials, attempting to accurately map the roles of gravity-induced convection and sedimentation in the process by removing the gravity from the equation. Status checks also continued today on the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment investigating plant growth in space.
The USMP experiments continue to operate in the payload bay. The MEPHISTO team sent electrical pulses through a bismuth and tin sample, freezing the atoms at the point where liquid meets solid and showing the evolution of the specimen’s shape. Another materials experiment, the Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace, continues to be operated by the ground.
The six astronauts are scheduled to go to sleep just before 11 this morning and wake up at about 6:45 tonight.
The next mission status report will be issued about 7 p.m. after the crew wake up call from Mission Control.
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