Columbia’s seven astronauts were awakened at 4:49 a.m. Central time this morning to begin another day of exploring how the nervous system adapts to the weightless environment of space.
The crew was awakened to the sound of "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds, which was played in honor of the rotating chair experiment involved in studies of the human vestibular system.
Columbia’s science astronauts -- Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Dave Williams and Payload Specialists Jay Buckey and Jim Pawelczyk – will continue their investigations into how the human nervous system adapts to the weightlessness of space. Buckey and Pawelczyk will take part in a variety of autonomic experiments designed to examine blood pressure regulation in microgravity. The test uses a special device resembling a hi-tech sack to place a stress on the cardiovascular system similar to that experienced when standing in Earth’s gravity.
The astronauts will also infuse radioactively-labeled neorepinephrine into the blood stream and will collect blood samples. Neorepinephrine is a chemical messenger that will allow investigators to measure how fast the substance is released into and removed from the blood’s circulation and determines whether the blood pressure control system is underutilized in the absence of gravity. The payload specialists will conduct another experiment in which they use an innovative technique called microneurography. This involves placing a small needle in a nerve just below the knee, allowing nerve signals traveling from the brain to the blood vessels to be measured directly.
Linnehan and Williams will participate as subjects and as operators in tests on the vestibular experiments, including additional runs in the rotating chair to measure the response of their eyes and inner ears in maintaining balance in a weightless environment.
Mission Specialist Kay Hire again will work with the Bioreactor Demonstration System, which is designed to perform cell biology experiments under controlled conditions. Scientists are using the device to study the growth of human kidney and bone marrow cells in space. She also will be a subject in a test designed to detect functional abnormalities of the central nervous system. The test activates the blood pressure control system and raises blood pressure, but not by stimulating pressure receptors.
Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman will take turns operating 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.
Columbia remains in a 153 x 133 nautical mile orbit, circling the Earth every 90 minutes. All systems on board continue to operate in excellent fashion. NASA managers are expected to decide Wednesday whether to add an extension day to Columbia’s flight in the name of science. Columbia currently is scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 6 p.m. Tuesday or as events warrant.
UPCOMING EVENTS ON NASA TV Tuesday, April 28, 1998
MET CDT EDT
NASA VIDEO FILE 10/21:41 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
MISSION STATUS BRIEFING 10/23:41 01:00 PM 02:00 PM
CANADIAN PAO EVENT 11/02:00 03:19 PM 04:19 PM
NORTH CAROLINA STATE COLLEGE 11/03:00 04:19 PM 05:19 PM OF VETERINARY MEDICINE ED. EVENT
FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS 11/04:41 06:00 PM 07:00 PM
CREW ACTIVITY REPORT / 11:05:41 07:00 PM 08:00 PM FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS REPLAY / VIDEO FILE REPLAY (replayed every hour on the hour through crew wake up)
- end -