Almost one week into their flight, Columbia’s crew is continuing their efforts with the 26 different experiments that comprise the STS-90 Neurolab mission. The experiments which include studies of blood pressure, balance, coordination and sleep patterns and are designed to provide valuable insight into the basic operation of the nervous system, the most complex and least well-known part of the human body.
Commander Rick Searfoss, Pilot Scott Altman, Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan, Kay Hire and Dave Williams along with Payload Specialists Jay Buckey and Jim Pawelczyk received a wake up call from Mission Control at 6:19 a.m. CDT with the James Brown song "I Got You (I Feel Good).
Science activities on Thursday will include the continuation of the experiments looking at the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that automatically controls blood pressure. These investigations are designed to uncover what changes take place in blood pressure control during space flight. Crewmembers will use the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) device which places a stress on the cardiovascular system similar to what is experienced when standing in Earth’s gravity environment.
More work with the Visual and Vestibular Integration System (VVIS), the rotating chair being used to stimulate the balance organ in the ear known as the vestibular system, also will be a part of Flight Day Seven activities. Crewmembers again will be rotated at 45 rpm to stimulate the vestibular system with both spinning and tilting sensations while the infrared video camera system which covers the test subject’s head records the eye movements. Investigators hope that results from this experiment will help them understand why astronauts experience balance problems after they return home from a space flight and may also contribute to the design of more effective rehabilitation procedures for patients with severe inner ear diseases.
The Sensory Motor and Performance Team will collect more data as the crew uses the Visuo-Motor Coordination Facility (VCF). The VCF projects visual targets onto a screen. As the targets appear, the astronaut will point at them as they move from place to place, grasp at them as they change size and track them as they move in a circle. During the test, the astronaut will wear a specially designed glove that allows precise tracking of hand movements and response times. The motor skills test associated with the VCF will be done several times over the course of the flight to detect any changes in the performance and chronicle the adaptation of the nervous system as the astronaut adjusts to space flight.
One additional item added to the crew’s activities today will be some additional troubleshooting with the aquarium being carried in the Spacelab known as the Vestibular Function Experiment Unit (VFEU). The air pump for fish pack number two has begun to show the same failure signature as was seen on the number three unit earlier in the flight. Altman and Hire will set up a similar bypass setup to the one they did on Flight Day 3. The reconfiguration will allow the air pump from fish pack number one to support the two units. The VFEU’s four aquariums are used to house the oyster toadfish being carried as research subjects for the Neurolab aquatic experiments.
Late this afternoon Pawelczyk and Altman will talk with a medical correspondent for KTVT-TV in Dallas. The interview which is scheduled for 5:09 p.m. Central is expected to focus on Pawelczyk’s research on neuroscience and cardiovascular issues at the University of Texas Southern Medical Center.
Columbia and all of its systems continue to operate without problems as the Shuttle continues to orbit the Earth once every 90 minutes.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 6 a.m. Thursday.
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UPCOMING EVENTS ON NASA TV Thursday, April 23, 1998
MET CDT EDT
NASA VIDEO FILE 05/21:41 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
ANDY THOMAS INTERVIEWS WITH CNN 05/21:56 11:15 AM 12:15 PM & FLORIDA TODAY FROM MIR
MISSION STATUS BRIEFING / 06/00:41 02:00 PM 03:00 PM HUMAN SCIENCE BRIEFING
KTVT-TV, DALLAS INTERVIEW 06/03:50 05:09 PM 06:09 PM
FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS 06/05:41 07:00 PM 08:00 PM
CREW ACTIVITY REPORT / 06/06:41 08:00 PM 09:00 PM FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS REPLAY / VIDEO FILE REPLAY (replayed every hour on the hour through crew wake up)
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