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International Space Station Science Update
 

Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256/544-0034)

Feb. 12, 2003

RELEASE: 03-066

Science operations continue on the International Space Station. Basic and applied research is being conducted in biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, medicine, materials science, manufacturing and the long-term effects of space flight on humans.

During the past week, the Expedition Six crewmembers, Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolay Budarin and NASA Station Science Officer Don Pettit, completed several sessions in support of the Human Research Facility (HRF). The HRF is a floor-to-ceiling, facility-class rack located in the Station's Destiny laboratory. It is designed to support human life science investigations, such as the Pulmonary Function in Flight (PuFF) experiment. The PuFF experiment evaluates how the lungs function in space. Little is known about how the lungs can be affected by long-term exposure to microgravity like the near-weightlessness inside the Space Station.

The science data recorded from previous life sciences experiments was beamed down to a team at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Pettit read the EVA Radiation Monitoring (EVARM) experiment dosimeter badges and downloaded the data from the reader to the HRF laptop computer. The data from the badges is read once a week and then downloaded to the computer on a bi-weekly basis. The badges measured radiation absorbed by the eyes, skin, and blood-forming organs when previous expedition and Shuttle crews wore them outside during spacewalks. The dosimeters are located at strategic locations inside the Destiny laboratory, where they measure radiation inside the laboratory. Scientists will compare data collected by the EVARM badges with data collected by other nearby radiation measurement devices inside Destiny.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the Russian Progress re-supply ship arrived at the Station on schedule with a load of supplies, including scientific equipment. After the Progress docked, the crew began unloading equipment and supplies, including a new power distribution box and an electronics module for the Microgravity Science Glovebox. On Feb. 5, Pettit installed the new parts, powered up the Glovebox and activated the facility. This resulted in a circuit breaker trip, and further activity was put on hold. The Glovebox team on the ground is working with the European Space Agency, which built the facility, to develop a troubleshooting plan for the Station crew.

The Glovebox supports several physical science experiments, providing a contained work volume for crews to safely work with experiments involving fumes, fluids, flames or loose particles. Several experiments are onboard the Station and are ready to resume inside the Glovebox when it is restored to working order.

The crew set up a camera in the Station's high-quality optical window, and students from 30 schools across the globe used it to do their geography lessons. Students remotely controlled the special digital camera through the Internet and took 767 images of Earth during the past week. They selected and photographed Earth's coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic areas of interest.
The Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM) educational program team posted the photographs on the Internet. They are available to the public and participating classrooms around the world. This experiment has been performed on several Station expeditions, giving thousands of students a chance to study Earth from the unique vantage point of space. Images are available at:
http://datasystems@earthkam.ucsd.edu

The crew took photographs this week as part of the Crew Earth Observation (CEO) program. The crew had the opportunity to photograph many places in India, Africa, Panama, Puerto Rico, South America, and Asia. The CEO science team praised recent detailed shots of glaciers on the west side of the Andes, which is often covered by clouds and difficult to photograph.

Upcoming science activities for the crew include work 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 next FOOT session is planned for Thursday, Feb. 13.

The Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala., manages all science research experiment operations aboard the Space Station. For supporting materials for this news release, such as photographs, fact sheets, video and audio files and more, visit the MSFC Web site at: http://www.msfc.nasa.gov.

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