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For release: 01-30-03 (for week ending 01-30-03)
Science Ops status report #: 03-013

Space Station crew studies how humans adapt to living in space

Photo description: Astronauts photograph Earth

The International Space Station crew has completed physiological tests that will help scientists learn how the human body adapts to living in space. This research examines how space flight affects the muscles and bones and even may cause kidney stone formation. The crew has also set up a camera that middle school students will operate remotely from the ground to photograph Earth. NASA's Payload Operations Center at Marshall handles all science operations on the Space Station.

Photo: Astronauts photograph Earth. (NASA/JSC)


During the last week, the crew focused on research that studies how the human body adapts to living in space. The three International Space Station (ISS) crewmembers were test subjects for experiments that examine how space flight affects muscles and bones and kidney stone formation. These and other aspects of human physiology must be studied to ensure humans can live and work in space safely for extended durations.

Expedition Six Commander Ken Bowersox completed the third round of research with the FOOT/Ground Reaction Forces During Space Flight (FOOT) experiment. FOOT characterizes the stress on the bones and muscles in the lower extremities. The data were sent to scientists on Earth for analysis.  In February, more measurements will be collected for FOOT.

On Tuesday, the crew completed five days of Renal Stone experiment tests.  The crew is taking potassium citrate pills or a placebo to study a possible preventative for kidney stones in space. The microgravity environment of the Station changes fluid metabolism and bone loss, which may increase the chance of kidney stone formation during and after flight.  The crew collected urine samples and recorded their food, fluid, exercise and medication to assess environmental influences other than microgravity.

The ISS  crew not only looked inward at their bodies, but also looked outward at their home, Earth. The Station provides an excellent platform for photographing planet Earth. On Tuesday, the crew activated and set up camera equipment for the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM) experiment. For the rest of the week, middle school students will operate the camera.

EarthKam is a NASA education program that enables thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s perspective. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted on the Station. This allows them to photograph the Earth’s coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The EarthKam team then posts the photographs on the Internet so that they can be viewed by the public and participating classrooms around the world. This experiment has been performed on several ISS expeditions.

Crew Earth Observation crew photography opportunities have been performed since the first crew took up residence on the ISS. This week, the crew will have the opportunity to photograph fires and widespread blankets of smoke over southeast Australia. In the past week, crewmembers captured photographs of cloud formations that are of interest to meteorologists. They also took photographs of southern Louisiana and Florida and images of Lake Poopo in the high tropical Andes. This week, the crew also will have the opportunity to photograph glaciers in Patagonia, a landslide in Chili, and several more areas in Africa, Australia, and South America.

On Tuesday, the crew started activation and checkout of the new Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) installed in EXPRESS Rack 3 during Expedition Five. ARIS is a vibration- dampening system that protects delicate microgravity experiments from tiny vibrations caused by crew movement, operating equipment, etc. The crew will checkout several key components of the ARIS system including eight acceleration and position sensors, actuators and pushrods that keep the rack suspended by sensing vibrations and providing a counter force to prevent vibrations from reaching the rack and experiments inside.

EXPRESS Racks provide Station experiments with utilities such as power, cooling, fluids, communications and more. Over the last week, the Payload Operations Center and the Station crew successfully upgraded software for several Express racks in the Destiny lab.  This upgrade is expected to make science operations even smoother.

The crew continues to prepare for the arrival of the Russian Progress resupply ship, which is scheduled to dock with the Station next week with a load of equipment and supplies. This equipment will include new replacement parts (power distribution and control unit) for the Microgravity Science Glovebox, which should restore the Glovebox to working order. This facility supports several physical science experiments, providing a contained work volume for crews to work safely with experiments involving fumes, fluids   flames or loose particles.

The Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages all science research experiment operations aboard the International

Space Station.  The center is also home for coordination of the mission-planning work of a variety of international sources, all science payload deliveries and retrieval, and payload training and payload safety programs for the Station crew and all ground personnel.

For supporting materials for this news release — such as photographs, fact sheets, video and audio files and more — please visit the NASA Marshall Center Newsroom Web site at

www.msfc.nasa.gov/news

For more information:
Status report
Photos
Expedition Six experiment fact sheets
Science Ops Web site


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