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February 28, 2014
Space to Ground - 02/28/14

V.O.: Houston, station on space to ground.

Josh Byerly: Welcome to Space To Ground, your weekly look at what’s happening on board the ISS. I’m Josh Byerly.

More CubeSats were deployed off the side of the station this week.

Sixteen were released earlier this month, and twelve more were deployed in this second batch. These small Earth-imaging satellites will provide clearer pictures of our home planet for researchers and educators.

One of the great mysteries that the station is helping solve has to do with plants.

It’s a Japanese experiment called Aniso. And it’s designed to figure out how plants automatically know how thick their stems need to be to overcome gravity. A lot of a plant’s energy goes into overcoming gravity, so this experiment could lead to better ways to grow things here on Earth and on future spaceflights.

The crew is also getting geared up for the arrival of the next SpaceX Dragon vehicle.

They’ve been practicing on the station’s robotic arm, which they’ll use  to reach out and grab Dragon once it arrives.

Astronaut Mike Hopkins: This is the control station. And what you see over here on my left, this controls the translation of the robotic arm. And then over here we have rotational control. And then this middle computer is where we actually take the robotic arm into the different modes that we do have.

Byerly: The current Dragon launch date is set for March 16th with a rendezvous with the station planned for March 18th.

This week’s social media question is how does the OPALS experiment work that is going up on the next Dragon flight?

Well, OPALS is a way to test out better communication with the space station using lasers. And lasers are always cool. 

Currently, NASA’s communications satellites use radio waves to send information from space to the ground, but lasers could allow us to transmit stronger signals with more data. So OPALS will test a way to do this from the station.

Make sure to keep sending us your questions and comments using the hashtag #spacetoground.  We’ll see you next week.

Page Last Updated: March 3rd, 2014
Page Editor: Jerry Wright