Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia today bypassed a faulty air pump in one of four saltwater aquarium chambers, continued tests on the adaptability of the human nervous system and collected tissue samples for studies of how space flight affects developing nervous systems.
Pilot Scott Altman and Mission Specialist Kay Hire worked on the Vestibular Function Experiment Unit (VFEU) that is home to four oyster toadfish early in their day. They used backup air hoses to bypass a faulty air pump on one fish chamber, routing air from the pump supporting another chamber. Scientists in the Payload Operations Control Center reported that all fish chambers were receiving adequate air after the maintenance procedure.
Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan, Dave Williams and Jim Pawelczyk worked as experiment operators and served as test subjects on two Sensory Motor and Performance Team experiments. One uses equipment developed by the French Space Agency (CNES) to test the astronauts’ ability to catch a ball propelled toward them from above. The second investigation uses virtual reality headgear called the Virtual Environment Generator (VEG) to evaluate how the use of visual and inner ear cues help the astronauts determine body orientation changes in the absence of gravity. Both experiments could have important applications for people on Earth suffering from balance and orientation difficulties.
Commander Rick Searfoss tended to rodents in the Animal Enclosure Module, and Payload Specialist Jay Buckey and Mission Specialist Dave Williams performed injections and dissections of pregnant mice in the General Purpose Work Station (GPWS) for a study of how reduced gravity affects the cells of developing nervous systems.
The shuttle crew also checked on the Bioreactor Demonstration System’s (BDS) renal tissue and bone marrow samples, tested a new Water Dump Monitoring System (WDMS) using a laptop computer and worked on Get Away Special (GAS) experiments.
Columbia continues to circle the Earth in a 154 x 137 n.m. orbit. The crew will go to sleep at 11:19 p.m. CDT and receive a wake up call from Mission Control on Monday morning at 7:19 a.m.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 6 a.m. CDT Monday.
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