The seven astronauts aboard Columbia continued a variety of neuroscience experiments today, including a Canadian-developed experiment that tested their ability to point at, track and grasp objects while in microgravity.
Using a special glove with light-emitting fingertips, Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Dave Williams and Payload Specialists Jay Buckey and Jim Pawelczyk took turns following targets on a screen as part of the Visuo-Motor Coordination Facility (VCF) experiment. The crew used the equipment early in the flight and will test their eye-hand coordination again late in the flight.
The payload crew members also served as subjects for Visual and Vestibular Integration System (VVIS) chair rotations to correlate eye movements with balance system functioning, and slipped into the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) device to see how stressing the cardiovascular system in reduced gravity affects the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure.
Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman oversaw a simultaneous dump of the shuttle’s excess supply and waste water tanks, monitoring its progress on a special laptop computer program.
Mission Specialist Kay Hire, with some help from Altman, rerouted the air supply for a second aquarium chamber in the Vestibular Function Experiment Unit (VFEU). The air pump for fish pack number two has begun to show the same type of failure as was seen on the number three unit earlier in the flight. Altman and Hire set up a bypass similar 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 aquariums are housing oyster toadfish whose gravity receptors are being studied in microgravity.
Columbia and all of its systems continue to operate without problems as the shuttle continues to orbit the Earth at 17,500 miles an hour.
The astronauts will begin an eight-hour sleep period at 9:59 p.m. Central time and will be awakened Friday at 5:59 a.m. to begin their eighth day of work aboard Columbia.
A special note……..The JSC newsroom will be closed from 10:15pm Central time until 5:30 Friday morning, when it will reopen prior to crew wakeup.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 7 a.m. Friday.
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