Columbia’s seven-member crew took a break from scientific activity today to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with four hours of scheduled off-duty time.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the science crew – Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Dave Williams and Payload Specialists Jay Buckey and Jim Pawelczyk – continued to support the Visual and Vestibular Integration System (VVIS) investigation. Investigators are studying the correlation between eye movement and the inner ear as the astronauts each took a turn in the rotating chair. Researchers hope to better understand how the balance organs in the ear, and all the connections they make to the eyes, brain and muscles, adapt to the microgravity environment.
Mission Specialist Kay Hire also spent time with an investigation that evaluates an astronaut’s eye-hand coordination during various phases of the mission. Wearing a special glove with light-emitting diodes, Hire tracked a variety of targets projected on a screen. Researchers can study the track created by the diodes to determine any changes in performance and evaluate how the astronauts are adapting to space.
Shuttle Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman practiced with the Portable In-Flight Landing Operations Trainer (PILOT), a laptop computer and joystick system that allows them to simulate approaches and landings to the Kennedy Space Center to maintain their piloting skills.
Searfoss and Williams took time from their activities this morning to talk with the British Broadcasting System’s Wales Network. The interview focused on the progress of the mission and Williams’ and Searfoss’ Welsh ancestry.
The crew will begin its scheduled sleep period at 9:09 p.m. central time today, receiving a wake-up call from Mission Control about 5 a.m. Monday to begin Flight Day 11. Columbia remains in a 153 x 133 nautical mile orbit, circling the Earth every 90 minutes.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued at about 6 a.m. Monday or as events warrant.
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