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Station Crew Works with Robotics and Science
01.11.13
 
iss034e014543 -- Kevin Ford (background) and Tom Marshburn

With their feet anchored in floor restraints, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford (background) and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn conduct a session with the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) in the Kibo laboratory. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 34 crew members were busy with a robotics experiment and a host of other scientific research Friday as they wrapped-up another busy week aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn configured the bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, as part of the ground-based SPHERES Zero Robotics competition. During the competition, teams of high school students gathered at the European Space Research and Technology Center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., to watch the best teams’ algorithms command the free-flying robots through a series of maneuvers and objectives.

› Read more about SPHERES Zero Robotics
› Visit Zero Robotics website

Station crews beginning with Expedition 8 have operated these robots to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

Hadfield closed out his work this week with the InSpace-3 experiment, which studies the physical property changes in fluids containing ellipsoid-shaped particles when a magnetic field is applied. These colloidal fluids are classified as smart materials, transitioning to a solid-like state in the presence of a magnetic field, and this technology may lead to the design of bridges and buildings that can better withstand earthquakes.

› Read more about InSPACE-3

Tom Marshburn

Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn answers questions about his experiences and activities aboard the orbiting laboratory during an in-flight educational event with students at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky. Credit: NASA TV

Marshburn tested his perception in microgravity for the Reversible Figures experiment, and later had some time scheduled to answer questions about his experiences and activities aboard the orbiting laboratory during an in-flight educational event with students at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.

› Read more about Reversible Figures

Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin, Oleg Novitskiy and Roman Romanenko performed various inspections and maintenance duties in the Russian segment of the station, tagging-up with flight control teams in Russia as needed.

Novitskiy and Tarelkin spent some time with the BAR experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of an air leak from one of the station’s modules, while Romanenko and Tarelkin worked with a Russian experiment studying plasma crystal formation in microgravity.

› Read more about BAR
› Learn more about Plasma Crystal

Over the weekend, the station residents will continue ongoing scientific research and perform their regular maintenance duties. They also will enjoy some off-duty time and have an opportunity to speak with family members.