The seventh day in orbit for Space Shuttle Discovery and its seven-member astronaut crew was packed with ongoing science operations. Early in the day, Mission Specialist Steve Robinson, assisted by Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski, tested the Orbiter Space Vision System. OSVS uses special markings on Spartan and the shuttle cargo bay to provide an alignment aid for the arm’s operator using shuttle television images. This was its final on-orbit test before going into operational use on the next Space Shuttle flight in December as an aid in using the arm to join together the first two modules of the International Space Station.
This afternoon Payload Specialist Chiaki Mukai along with STS-95 commander Curt Brown and Payload Specialist-2 John Glenn took a phone call from Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Minister of State for Science and Technology, Yutaka Takeyama. Also today, Brown, Glenn and pilot Steve Lindsey conversed with veteran newsman Walter Cronkite and NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin during a luncheon in Houston celebrating NASA’s 40th anniversary. NBC’s Jay Leno of the Tonight Show also interviewed Glenn, Brown and Lindsey in a conversation that will be aired on NBC tonight.
In other activity in space today, crew members continued work with several of the on-board science experiments. Brown, Lindsey, Robinson and Glenn completed a daily back-pain questionnaire by as part of a study of how the muscle, intervertebral discs and bone marrow change after exposure to microgravity.
Glenn and Mukai continued to record their food consumption and will once again don a sleep net and special sleep suit tonight. Electrodes on the sleep net and sensors in the sleep suit monitor brain waves, eye movements, muscle tension, body movements and respiration. The electrodes and sensors are connected to a digital sleep recorder that records a variety of measurements as they sleep. Mukai also will swallow a capsule containing either melatonin or a placebo as part of the sleep study.
Glenn removed the Holter monitor electrodes and data recorder he has worn for the past 24 hours, recording his heart rhythm on orbit, as part of an investigation of heart rate variability during space flight. Blood samples were again taken from Glenn and ESA astronaut Pedro Duque as part of the experiment monitoring the changes in muscle tissue in space.
Glenn and Lindsey operated the Astroculture plant-growing experiment, while Scott Parazynski and Duque monitored the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MGBX) experiments known as Colloidal Disorder-Order Transition and Structural Studies of Colloidal Suspension. Colloids are systems of fine particles suspended in fluid. Researchers hope to learn more about how the organization of atoms changes as they form into orderly solid structures. Duque deactivated these two experiments for the remainder of the mission.
Mukai continued her work with the Japanese Vestibular Function Experiment Unit (VFEU), which holds two toadfish that are electronically monitored to determine the effect of gravitational changes on the inner ear’s balance system.
All systems on board Discovery continue to operate well. The next STS-95 status report will be issued at approximately 6 a.m. Central time Thursday.
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