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December 15, 2009
ISS On-Orbit Status 12/15/09

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below.

FE Suraev started out with the regular daily checkup of the aerosol filters at the Elektron O2 generator. [The filters were installed by him on 10/19 in gaps between the BZh Liquid Unit and the oxygen outlet pipe (filter FA-K) plus hydrogen outlet pipe (filter FA-V). Photographs are to be taken if the filter packing is discolored.]

The two crewmembers began the day with the periodic before-breakfast session of the Russian biomedical routine assessment PZEh-MO-8/Body Mass Measurement using the IM mass measurement device. Suraev set up the IM and later stowed it away again. In addition, the FE also did PZEh-MO-7/Calf Volume Measurement. [For determining body mass in zero-G, where things are weightless but not massless, the Russian IM "scales" for MO-8 measure the inertial forces that arise during the oscillatory motion of a mass driven by two helical metering springs with known spring constants. By measuring the time period of each oscillation of the unknown mass (the crewmember) and comparing it to the period of a known mass, the crewmember’s mass is calculated by the computer and displayed. MO-7 Calf measurements (left leg only) are taken with the IZOG device, a custom-sewn fabric cuff that fits over the calf, using the knee and lower foot as fixed reference pints, to provide a rough index of deconditioning in zero-G and effectiveness of countermeasures. ].

As part of the crew’s regular morning inspection tour, the Flight Engineer conducted the new routine checkup of circuit breakers & fuses in the MRM2 (Mini Research Module 2). [The monthly checkup in the “Poisk” module looks at AZS circuit breakers on the BVP Amp Switch Panel (they should all be On) and the LEDs (light-emitting diodes) of 14 fuses in fuse panels BPP-30 & BPP-36.]

Commander Williams used the TOCA (Total Organic Carbon Analyzer) to perform the periodic WRS (Water Recovery System) sample analysis, after first initializing the software and priming (filling) the TOCA water sample hose. [After the approximately 2 hr TOCA analysis, results were transferred to an SSC (Station Support Computer) via USB drive for downlink, and the data were also logged.]

Later, Williams checked a CTB (Cargo Transfer Bag, #1410) to look for (and successfully locate) spare screws for the EMCS (European Modular Cultivation System) door, with which to replace current screws that the Exp-18 crew has reported as damaged.

Working on the payload APEX TAGES (Advanced Plant Experiments on Orbit-Cambium / Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System), while recording his activities photographically, the CDR performed Harvest 1B, the third and final TAGES harvest for Run 1, collecting the GUS (beta-glucuronidase) and GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) reporter gene plants. Jeff then inserted desiccant into the GFI (Green Fluorescent Imager). [An inspection of the TAGES Petri Plates for contamination preceded the harvest. Contamination was visible on Petri Plates 1 & 2 following the TAGES Run 1B replanting. The TAGES experiment studies the patterns of gene expression in Arabidopsis plants, which change when the plant experiences environmental stresses (like spaceflight). The presence of a contaminant is also a stressor to the plant and could add “noise” to the genetic data. The inspection was to see whether any plants were in direct contact with contamination and to eliminate them from the harvest. TAGES uses Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress), with sensor promoter-reporter gene constructs that render the plants as “biomonitors” (an organism used to determine the quality of the surrounding environment) of their environment using real-time nondestructive GFP imagery and traditional postflight analyses. The first group of biomonitors for TAGES consists of plants with ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) sensor promoter and GUS reporter gene constructions. The second group of biomonitor plants incorporates the GFP reporter gene construction. The harvesting involves both GUS & GFP reporter gene plants. The first harvest, 1A, of both GUS & GFP reporter gene plants was performed on 11/21, to capture the effects of stress incurred during ascent.]

Jeff also conducted the daily status check of the APEX-Cambium hardware, looking for health and color of the plants. Because the Cambium plants were removed from the ABRS (Advanced Biological Research System) and ground-based monitoring, a daily status check & weekly photo session are necessary. [When completed, the APEX-Cambium payload in conjunction with the NASA-sponsored TAGES will determine the role of gravity in Cambium wood cell development (providing the pulp & paper and construction industries insight into the fundamental mechanisms of wood cell formation) and demonstrate non-destructive reporter gene technology & investigate spaceflight plant stress. APEX-Cambium provides NASA & the ISS community a permanent controlled environment capability to support growth of various organisms (i.e. whole plants).]

Later, Williams performed the regular 30-day inspection of the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) in the CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) Rack. [The AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient. It then can treat them through defibrillation, i.e., the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm. AEDs are generally either held by trained personnel who will attend events or are public access units which can be found in places including corporate and government offices, shopping centers, airports, restaurants, casinos, hotels, sports stadiums, schools and universities, community centers, fitness centers, health clubs and any other location where people may congregate.]

Suraev took care of the periodic transfer of log file directories for the last 5 days from the Russian RS1 laptop to a USB stick and from there to OCA for downlink to TsUP. [Last time done: 12/10.]

The FE also conducted the periodic service of downloading data files from the BU (Control Unit) of the running BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") experiment in the SM (Service Module) for archiving on a PCMCIA memory card and downlinking NIKON D2X photographs of the growing plants in the LADA greenhouse. [The archiving may take up to 5 hrs. Rasteniya-2 researches growth and development of plants under spaceflight conditions in the LADA-16 greenhouse from IBMP (Institute of Bio-Medical Problems, Russian: IMBP), currently planted with Mizuna seeds. Mizuna (Brassica rapa nipposinica) is a tasty variety of Japanese mustard greens, also known as California Peppergrass, eaten as a salad.]

Maxim performed outfitting on the SKV-1 air conditioner in the SM, removing thermal/acoustic insulation covers from the SKV-2 BTA heat exchanger/evaporator pipeline behind panels 404-405 and installing them instead on the SKV-1’s BTA pipeline behind panels 204-205. [After cleaning the VT1& VTK1 fan screens and GZhT heat exchanger grilles, panels 204-205 were closed and a temporarily deactivated Signal-VM DS-7A smoke detector turned on again.]

Continuing the current round of RS (Russian Segment) ventilation systems maintenance, Suraev also completed regular inspection & cleaning on Group A fan screens in the SM (VPkhO, VPrK, FS5, FS6 & FS9).

Afterwards, the FE powered off the TVIS (Treadmill with Vibration Isolation & Stabilization) in the SM “pit” by opening two circuit breakers. [The power was removed in preparation for tomorrow’s planned TVIS maintenance activity.]

Maxim also continued the extended leak integrity checking of the spare BZh Liquid Unit (#056) for the Elektron O2 generator, recharged on 12/3 with nitrogen (N2) to 1 atm (1 kg/cm2), by conducting the usual pressure check and repressing it to verify the unit’s hermeticity. [Objective of the monthly checkout of the spare BZh, which has been in stowage since March 2007, is to check for leakage and good water passage through the feed line inside of the BZh (from ZL1 connector to the buffer tank) and to check the response of the Electronics Unit’s micro switches (signaling “Buffer Tank is Empty” & “Buffer Tank is Full”. During Elektron operation, the inert gas locked up in the BZh has the purpose to prevent dangerous O2/H2 mixing. A leaking BZh cannot be used.]

Continuing Node-1 outfitting for the arrival of Node-3 “Tranquility” next February, Jeff Williams, with Max Suraev’s assistance, completed the final connection of the MIL Bus 1553 cable for the Video/Audio Bus Channel A.

The CDR terminated his first session of the JAXA “Biological Rhythms” experiment started yesterday, then downloaded and saved his ECG (Electrocardiograph) data recorded for the last 24 hrs with the body-worn digital Walk Holter ECG (Electrocardiograph).

In the US Lab, Jeff deactivated dosimetry operations of the ALTEA-DOSI (Anomalous Long Term Effects on Astronauts) payload.

Maxim completed the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. [This includes checking the ASU toilet facilities, replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers.]

The FE also performed the daily IMS (Inventory Management System) maintenance, updating/editing its standard “delta file” including stowage locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur),

Later, Suraev conducted his sixth data collection for the psychological MBI-16 Vzaimodejstvie (“Interactions”) program, accessing and completing the computerized study questionnaire on the RSE-Med laptop and saving the data in an encrypted file. [The software has a “mood” questionnaire, a “group & work environment” questionnaire, and a “critical incidents” log. Results from the study, which is also mirrored by ground control subjects, could help to improve the ability of future crewmembers to interact safely and effectively with each other and with Mission Control, to have a more positive experience in space during multi-cultural, long-duration missions, and to successfully accomplish mission activities.]

Williams completed the weekly inspection of the T2/COLBERT treadmill system, checking out its components (e.g., jam nut witness mark).

Jeff also performed the periodic maintenance & visual inspection of the ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) and its VIS (Vibration Isolation System) rails & rollers, greasing the Y- and Z-axis rails & rollers and also evacuating its cylinder flywheels to maintain proper vacuum condition and sensor calibration.

At ~11:35am EST, Maxim had his regular PMC (Private Medical Conference), via S- & Ku-band audio/video.

At ~12:50pm, Jeff supported a PAO TV event at the New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, Connecticut, responding to questions from students. [Participants on the ground included 240 fifth grade students and 20 educators from two Connecticut district schools (East Hartford/Glastonbury Magnet, a 2007 NASA Explorer School, and the McAlister Intermediate School from the Suffield School District), led off by Caroline d’Otreppe, Director of Educational Programs at the New England Air Museum.]

A new task item on FE Suraev’s discretionary task list is for him to tape another segment for his “News from Zero Gravity” program for the Russian TV Channel TVTs, to be downlinked on 12/18 via USOS assets. [Using the Sony HVR-Z1J #3 camcorder in NTSC (US standard) format, the footage should focus on the holiday season, showing the onboard evergreen tree, various decorations, New Year presents, the crew’s holiday menu, etc.]

Jeff & Maxim performed their regular 2-hr physical exercise on the ARED advanced resistive exerciser (CDR), T2/COLBERT advanced treadmill (CDR, FE) and VELO ergometer bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE).

The CDR later transferred the exercise data files to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) for downlink, including the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on ARED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today were Storm Bay, Tasmania (H.M.S. Beagle Site: Darwin and the Beagle anchored at Sullivan's Cove on February 5, 1836. The Beagle stayed for 10 days and during that time Darwin was able to make 5 trips to study the local geology), Male, Maldives (Male, Maldives is one of our "Capitals of the World" efforts. The Maldives consists of 1,190 coral reef islands with 26 atolls that predominantly lie along a north-south orientation. The islands sit on a submarine ridge that is 960 km long. The Maldives hold the record for the lowest country in the world with a maximum elevation of 2.3 m and an average elevation of 1.5m), Sana’a, Yemen (Sana'a is another of the Capitals of the World. Looking left of track for this ancient city), Victoria, Seychelles (the crew was successful in capturing this city earlier in their increment. However, the clouds were not very cooperative and researchers wanted to try again for this target. This time they were hoping for a little less cloud cover), Popocatepetl Volcano, Mexico (looking slightly left of track for this large volcano located 70 km to the SE of Mexico City. Three major explosive eruptions have occurred in the very recent geologic past, producing pyroclastic flows and lahars [mud flows] that affected the basins surrounding the volcano. Mapping frames of the volcano and flanks were requested to capture current summit glacier extent and cone geomorphology. Gas and steam emissions can at times be observed emanating from the volcano), and Iquique, Chile (H.M.S. Beagle Site: The Beagle arrived at Iquique on July of 1835. Darwin reported the "the town contains about a thousand inhabitants and stands on a little plain of sand at the foot of a great wall of rock ..." As of 2002 Iquique was reported to have a population of 216,419. It has one of the largest duty-free commercial port centers of South America).

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 8:27am EST [= epoch])
Mean altitude – 340.1 km
Apogee height – 345.4 km
Perigee height – 334.9 km
Period -- 91.34 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.64 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0007845
Solar Beta Angle -- -24.4 deg (magnitude decreasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.76
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 105 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) – 63,453

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
12/20/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S launch -- O. Kotov (CDR-23)/S. Noguchi/T.J. Creamer – 4:52pm
12/22/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S docking at FGB nadir -- 5:55pm (flight duration: 2d 1h 03min)
01/14/10 -- Russian EVA-24
01/20/10 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S relocation (from SM aft to MRM-2)
02/03/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P launch
02/05/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P docking
02/07/10 -- STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 “Tranquility”+Cupola (target date)
03/18/10 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S undock/landing
03/18/10 -- STS-131/Discovery/19A – MPLM(P), LMC (~1:30pm EST)
04/02/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S launch – Skvortsov (CDR-24)/ Caldwell/Kornienko
04/27/10 -- Progress M-03M/35P undock
04/28/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P launch
04/30/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P docking
05/14/10 -- STS-132/Atlantis/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM-1 (~2:00pm EST)
05/15/10 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S undock/landing
05/29/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P undock
05/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S launch – Wheelock (CDR-25)/Walker/Yurchikhin
06/xx/10 -- Russian EVA-25
06/30/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P launch
07/02/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P docking
07/26/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P undock
07/27/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P launch
07/29/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P docking
07/29/10 -- STS-134/Endeavour (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS-02) (~7:30am EST)
08/30/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P undock
08/31/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P launch
09/02/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P docking
09/15/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S undock/landing
09/16/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PMM) (~12:01pm EST)
09/18/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PMM) docking
09/22/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PMM) undock
09/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-20/24S launch – Kelly (CDR-26)/Kaleri/Skripochka
10/xx/10 -- Russian EVA-26
10/26/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P undock
10/27/10 -- Progress M-09M/41P launch
10/29/10 -- Progress M-09M/41P docking
11/15/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S undock/landing
11/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-21/25S launch – Kondratyev (CDR-27)/Coleman/Nespoli
12/15/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P undock
02/08/11 -- Progress M-09M/41P undock
02/09/11 -- Progress M-10M/42P launch
02/11/11 -- Progress M-10M/42P docking
03/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-22/26S launch
xx/xx/11 – Progress M-11M/43P launch
05/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-23/27S launch
12/??/11 -- 3R Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) w/ERA – on Proton