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Space Station Science Expedition Twelve Overview Fact Sheet (09/05)
Computer-generated artist's rendering of the International Space Station following scheduled activities of Nov. 18, 2005 Expedition 12 -- the 12th science research mission on the International Space Station -- is scheduled to begin in October 2005, when the 12th crew launches on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the Station.

Image at right: Computer-generated artist's rendering of the International Space Station following scheduled activities of Nov. 18, 2005. Credit: NASA/JSC

A two-person crew of Commander William McArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev is assigned to the 11S mission, for the 11th Soyuz to visit the Station. The crew will work with teams on the ground to operate experiments, collect data and maintain the Space Station.

The current Expedition 11 crew, John Phillips and Sergei Krikalev, is scheduled to return home in October on another Soyuz spacecraft -- 10S -- now docked at the Station.

During Expedition 12, one Russian Progress cargo flight -- called 20P for the 20th Progress vehicle -- is scheduled to dock with the Space Station in December 2005. The re-supply ships will transport scientific equipment and supplies to the Station.

Many of the research activities for Expedition 12 will be carried out with scientific facilities and samples already on board the Space Station and with new research facilities transported by the STS-114 Space Shuttle mission in July 2005.

The research agenda for the expedition remains flexible. The Expedition 12 crew has more than 100 hours scheduled for U.S. payload activities. Space Station science also will be conducted remotely by the team of controllers and scientists on the ground, who will continue to plan, monitor and operate experiments from control centers across the United States.

A team of controllers for Expedition 12 will work in the Space Station's Payload Operations Center -- NASA's science command post for the Space Station -- at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, Ala. Controllers work in three shifts around the clock, seven days a week in the Payload Operations Center, which links researchers around the world with their experiments and the Station crew.

Experiments Using On-board Resources

Many experiments from earlier Expeditions remain on board the Space Station and will continue to benefit from the long-term research platform provided by the orbiting laboratory. These experiments include:

Crew Earth Observations (CEO) takes advantage of the crew in space to observe and photograph natural and human-made changes on Earth. The photographs record the Earth’s surface changes over time, as well as more fleeting events such as storms, floods, fires and volcanic eruptions. Together they provide researchers on Earth with vital, continuous images needed to better understand the planet.

Materials on the International Space Station Experiment 5 (MISSE 5) is a suitcase-sized experiment attached to the outside of the Space Station during a spacewalk on the STS-114 mission. It exposes hundreds of potential space construction materials to the harsh environment of space. The samples will be returned to Earth for study during a later expedition. Investigators will use the resulting data to design stronger, more durable spacecraft.

Space Acceleration Measurement System II (SAMS-II) and Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS) sensors measure vibrations caused by crew, equipment and other sources that could disturb microgravity experiments.

Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions (InSPACE) seeks to obtain basic data on magnetorheological fluids -- fluids that respond to magnetic forces. This new class of "smart materials" can be used to improve or develop new brake systems, seat suspensions, robotics, clutches, airplane landing gear and vibration damper systems. Samples for this experiment on board the Station can be processed inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox facility, an enclosed work area that allows the crew to work safely with these fluids.

Education Payload Operations (EPO) includes educational activities that will demonstrate science, mathematics, technology, engineering and geography principles. EPO is designed to support the NASA mission to inspire the next generation of explorers.

For the Cell Biotechnology Operations Support Systems Fluid Dynamics Investigation (CBOSS - FDI), crew members will conduct a fluid-mixing test using CBOSS fluid samples. CBOSS is used to grow three-dimensional tissue that retains the form and function of natural living tissue. This capability could lend insight in studying human diseases, including various types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and AIDS. A critical step in performing these cell experiments involves mixing fluids. These fluid-mixing tests will be conducted to improve future experiments.

Binary Colloidal Alloy Test – 3 (BCAT – 3) will study the long-term behavior of colloids -- a system of fine particles suspended in a fluid – in a microgravity environment, where the effects of sedimentation and convection are removed. Crewmembers will evenly mix the samples, photograph the growth and formations of the colloids, and downlink the images for analysis.

Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM), an education experiment, allows middle school students to program a digital camera on board the Station to photograph a variety of geographical targets for study in the classroom.

Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE), a suite of fluid physics flight experiments, will study how fluids behave in space. Since fluids behave differently in low gravity, this information will be valuable for engineers designing spacecraft cooling systems, life support systems and the many other types of equipment that use fluids to operate.

The Protein Crystal Growth Monitoring by Digital Holographic Microscope for the International Space Station (PromISS 4) investigation uses a microscope to visualize the protein crystal growth process in microgravity. Protein crystals are grown in microgravity to help researchers study proteins, an effort that could aid in the development of new drugs to fight diseases.

Human Life Science Investigations

Measurements of Expedition 12 crewmembers will be used to study changes in the body caused by exposure to the microgravity environment for many continuing experiments, including:

Promoting Sensorimotor Response to Generalizability: A Countermeasure to Mitigate Locomotor Dysfunction After Long-Duration Spaceflight (Mobility) studies changes in posture and gait after long-duration space flight. Study results are expected to help in developing an in-flight treadmill training program for Station crewmembers. The program could facilitate rapid recovery of functional mobility after long-duration space flight.

Behavioral Issues Associated with Isolation and Confinement: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals obtains information on behavioral and human factors related to the design of the equipment and procedures. It also monitors sustained human performance during long-duration missions.

Foot/Ground Reaction Forces During Space Flight (Foot) studies the load on the lower body and muscle activity in crewmembers working on the Station. This study will provide better understanding of lower-extremity bone and muscle loss experienced by astronauts in microgravity. The results of this experiment will help in planning future space flights and offers the potential to help better understand, prevent and treat osteoporosis -- a disease occurring mostly in women where the bones become fragile, break easily and heal slowly -- on Earth.

The Renal Stone experiment collects urine samples from the crew and tests a possible countermeasure for preventing kidney stone formation.

A Comprehensive Characterization of Microorganisms and Allergens in Spacecraft (SWAB) will use genetic techniques for the first time to comprehensively evaluate germs on board the Space Station, including pathogens. It also will track changes in the germ community as spacecraft visit the Station and modules are added. This study will monitor Station modules prior to launch to evaluate sources of new germs and find ways of preventing additional contamination on board spacecraft.

Space Shuttle Experiments

Many other experiments are scheduled to be performed during the Space Shuttle STS-121 mission – scheduled for launch in March 2006. These experiments include:

Fungal Pathogenesis, Tumorigenesis, and Effects of Host Immunity in Space (FIT) studies the progression of cancerous and benign tumors in sensitized mutant lines -- cells that will turn into tumors -- that show an increase in tumor formation. The effect of radiation exposure will be coupled to this study.

Incidence of Latent Virus Shielding During Spaceflight (Latent Virus) will support and expand information on latent virus -- or those inactive in the human system – that can reactivate, such as a cold sore during space flight. Understanding latent virus reactivation may be critical to crew health during extended space missions as crewmembers live and work in a closed environment.

Bioavailablity and Performance Effects Of Promethazine During Spaceflight (PMZ) aims to develop the scientific and technological foundations for a safe and productive human presence in long-duration space exploration. The experiment will identify differences between ground-based and in-flight results of the effects of promethazine -- an antihistamine drug used to treat allergies or motion sickness.

Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Spaceflight (Sleep) will help to better understand the effects of space flight on sleep, and aid development of effective countermeasures for both short- and long-duration spaceflight. Advancing state-of-the-art technology for monitoring, diagnosing and assessing treatment is vital to treating insomnia on Earth and in space.

New Space Station Facilities

Two new Space Station facilities are scheduled to be launched on STS-121.

Minus Eighty-degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) is a cold storage unit that will maintain experiment samples at ultra-cold temperatures throughout a mission.

European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) is a large incubator that will provide control over the atmosphere, lighting and humidity of growth chambers used to study plant growth. The facility was developed by the European Space Agency.

Destiny Laboratory Facilities

Several research facilities are in place on board the Station to support Expedition 12 science investigations.

The Human Research Facility is designed to house and support life sciences experiments. It includes equipment for lung function tests, ultrasound to image the heart and many other types of computers and medical equipment.

Human Research Facility-2 provides an on-orbit laboratory that enables human life science researchers to study and evaluate the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes induced by space flight.

The Microgravity Science Glovebox has a large front window and built-in gloves to provide a sealed environment for conducting science and technology experiments. The Glovebox is particularly suited for handling hazardous materials when a crewmember is present.

The Destiny lab also is outfitted with five EXPRESS Racks. EXPRESS, or Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station, racks are standard payload racks designed to provide experiments with utilities such as power, data, cooling, fluids and gasses. The racks support payloads in disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and medicines. The racks stay in orbit, while experiments are changed as needed. EXPRESS Racks 2 and 3 are equipped with the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) for countering minute vibrations from crew movement or operating equipment that could disturb delicate experiments.