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Sunita Williams' Mission Log
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Strolling, Russian Style

Life on the ISS:
• The boys went out on their first spacewalk on Wednesday!

We are now the "Christmas Tree gang", since they plucked up a piece that Beamer and I put on the ISS last December called the Christmas Tree and took it over to the Russian Segment. It is a collection of micrometeorite debris protection panels that Fyodor and Oleg began installing. They will finish up the installation on their second spacewalk coming up on Wednesday this week.

iss015e10043 -- Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov Image at right: Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov participates in a Russian spacewalk. Credit: NASA

Here is Oleg with the "Christmas Tree".

Stay tuned this week for the Russian EVA on Wednesday and maybe I'll tell you how many of the Top 10 I accomplished...

• It looks like it is heating up over the Gulf of Mexico! We are seeing some pretty thick dark clouds in that area. I started thinking about rain and how I would love to experience a rainy day! Maybe it is because it looks like I will be coming home soon, or maybe after about 6 months the human body just wants to be in water. Not only am I looking forward to a rainy day, but a swim in the ocean, a lake or a pool would be really great. For that matter, I think just a shower or a bath might be good at this point…

• So, I have been spending a little more time than usual looking out the window. I got another overwhelming feeling of wanting to land. It is funny. I think after orbiting for a while and looking at the surface, I think the natural tendency is to want to experience it, to go down there and touch it. I started thinking about the Apollo astronauts who orbited the moon and didn't land - that must have been agonizing! Again, maybe this is because I know I am coming home and maybe this is a psychological response to accepting leaving. However, if I had the opportunity to orbit another planet or moon, I think I would have the same desire to go down there and touch it for myself.

Cool Places we've flown over

• South Atlantic - we've been hunting for icebergs and even found some. I thought we wouldn't be able to pick them out from the clouds. They actually have a tinge of blue to them so they are visible with good lighting, even little ones. There is a big one that we have been tracking, monitoring its break up. It broke off of Antarctica 2 years ago and is about 35 km long. Impressive, but makes you think about why this is happening and what is happening to Antarctica. Then, I started thinking about the father Emperor Penguins down there who are protecting their egg as they start to weather the Antarctic winter...
• Patagonia
• Australia
• New Zealand

Good Food

• Getting the need for a greasy diner food. Ever have the desire to have breakfast food for dinner? I got that this week. Maybe because I have been thinking a lot about home lately and missing Mosquito Café, Classic Café and Moonakiss. So, I warmed up some breakfast sausage links, home fried potatoes and apples with spice. It was sort of like the ski breakfast, but for dinner.
• One last Indian/Chinese feast. This time it was full of paneer. There was paneer with Chinese hot sauce, paneer with peas and potatoes, paneer with squash and peas and fried rice. The rice was tricky to eat. It wasn't too sticky so every time one of us took a spoonful out the pieces went flying around. We ended up mounding a glob of rice onto the spoon to get it out in one lump. In the end, Fyodor just put the saucy stuff in the rice and that held it together for safe eating.
• Fyodor has the green thumb of the week. Last Sunday he put together his garlic planter, and look what happened in just one week! We are all going to be safe from vampires for a while!

iss015e10628 -- Expedition 15 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin Image at left: Expedition 15 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin holds a garlic planter inside the Zvezda service module. Credit: NASA

Working out

• 30 minutes biking
• 5 miles running, .2 miles passive walk
• 35 minutes biking
• 35 minutes biking, .2 miles passive walk
• 5 miles running
• 30 minutes biking, 20 minutes passive walking
• 6.2 miles running
• RED, running and walking passive to really add loading. Walking passive means that the treadmill is not motorized. The gyro and vibration isolation system are still working, but I have to push it to get it going. It took some practice to get used to this. In space if you push, you are usually going somewhere, so staying on the treadmill was a challenge at first even with the harness. It is hard work to move that treadmill and gets the heart rate up fast. Hopefully this will help condition my heart muscle in preparation for having to work harder on Earth.

Things we did:

Russian EVA
Talked to the STS-117 crew as they started their quarantine! I can't believe they are that close to launching! Seems like only yesterday we went into quarantine.

Science stuff
• Nutrition - last time to take blood and urine samples until I get back to Earth. I don't think I will mind someone else beside myself poking me to get blood. I know I won't mind a gravity assist to go to the bathroom!!!
• CFE (Capillary Flow Experiment) My last time for "lava lamp". I love these guys and their very creative ways to do this experiment. I was a human centrifuge to move the fluid around to set up some new initial conditions for the experiment. This is very cool stuff! I hope to visit you guys in Oregon to talk about the results - and have a good cup of coffee!

Maintenance Stuff - time to get ready for the shuttle crew and their EVAs!!!
• EMU cooling water scrub. We use iodine and silver to keep the water in the space suits free of microbes. The suits need to be flushed out periodically so they are clean and ready to go.
• EMU batteries, helmet light batteries, PGT (pistol grip tool - space drill) batteries all getting charged up.
• EVA camera set up. Yes, we take cameras into space after we put them in a thermal jacket.
• SAFER (simplified aid for emergency rescue - jet backpack for space suit) checkout.
• PGT checkout.
• Moved the SSRMS (robotic arm) into position for the solar array handoff during the shuttle mission.

PAO Stuff
• Spoke with Central Islip, New York, schools. Oleg was my camera man so we were able to show them a lot of the lab including my sleep station and a view out the window. It was really fun!

Fun Stuff
• HAM radio pass with Educators Symposium at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.