An Expedition 36 crew member captured this view of the interior of the Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 after the hatch was opened on Tuesday. Credit: NASA TV
Expedition 36 Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano greets Euronews during an in-flight event aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV
The Expedition 36 crew of the International Space Station focused its attention Tuesday on a recently arrived European Space Agency space freighter, medical experiments and preparations for next week's Russian spacewalk.
At 4:40 a.m. EDT Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano opened the hatch to the "Albert Einstein" Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4), which docked with the aft end of the Zvezda service module Saturday morning. Monday's planned hatch opening was delayed as mission managers discussed a potential contamination issue and ultimately decided to have the crew disinfect 21 cargo bags for possible mold.
› Read more about Saturday's "Albert Einstein" docking
After hatch opening and a quick video survey inside the "Albert Einstein" by Parmitano, Vinogradov went to work setting up air ducts to scrub the atmosphere so the crew could safely enter the space freighter later and begin the process of unloading its 7.3 tons of cargo.
Parmitano meanwhile spoke with Isabelle Kumar of Euronews to update viewers on the "Albert Einstein" activities and answer questions about living and working aboard the station.
› Watch Parmitano's interview with Euronews
With Parmitano's schedule readjusted for the one-day hatch opening delay, Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy stepped in to conduct an ultrasound scan on Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg for the Spinal Ultrasound investigation. Medical researchers have observed that astronauts grow up to three percent taller during their long duration missions aboard the station and return to their normal height when back on Earth. The Spinal Ultrasound investigation seeks to understand the mechanism and impact of this change while advancing medical imaging technology and techniques for use on the station as well as on Earth. Medical personnel already make use of the training methods developed for the space station crews when using ultrasound in remote areas.
› Read more about Spinal Ultrasound
Afterward, Nyberg spent some time testing samples from the Water Recovery System with the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer to check for any microbial contamination.
Cassidy moved on to inspecting the portable emergency provisions aboard the station, including the fire extinguishers and portable breathing apparatuses, and then recharged the batteries of the U.S. spacesuits in preparation for a spacewalk he and Parmitano will conduct in July.
Cassidy rounded out his workday adjusting a video camera and spotlight for the Capillary Channel Flow experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox to enhance the images for the researchers on the ground. Data from this experiment will help improve designs to transport liquids such as fuels, liquid nitrogen and water in microgravity. By understanding capillary fluid flow rates in microgravity, hardware can be developed for "pumping" liquids from one reservoir to another without the need for a pump with moving parts.
› Read more about Capillary Channel Flow
Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Fyodor Yurchikhin continued preparations for a spacewalk they will conduct next week. The two cosmonauts participated in a cardiac fitness evaluation before moving on to resizing their Orlan spacesuits and checking the spacesuits' valves. During the excursion slated to begin Monday at 9:35 a.m., the two spacewalking cosmonauts will work on the exterior of the Zarya module replacing a fluid flow control valve panel and installing clamps that will later hold cables bringing power from the U.S. segment of the station to a new Russian laboratory targeted to arrive at the station later this year.
The station's residents also had several opportunities throughout the day to photograph the planet below as part of the ongoing Crew Earth Observations program. The station's orbit Tuesday provided excellent views of noctilucent clouds in the north and several capitol cities, including Kingston, Jamaica; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Moroni, Comoros. The crew's photographs are made available online at the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.
› Visit the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
The ISS Progress 51 cargo craft, which undocked from the station June 11 to make way for the "Albert Einstein," is completing a week of free flight well away from the station for engineering tests. After using the Progress as a target to calibrate ground-based radar systems, Russian flight controllers will command the craft at 8:52 a.m. Wednesday to reenter the atmosphere and burn up over the Pacific Ocean.
Wednesday at 9:05 a.m., the thrusters on the "Albert Einstein" will fire for six minutes, 47 seconds to test the ATV's propulsion capability and reboost the station to the proper orbit for the single-day launch-to-docking of the ISS Progress 52 cargo ship on July 27. The "test" reboost will increase the station's altitude by 3/10 of a mile at apogee and 1.9 miles at perigee and leave the ISS at an altitude of 265.5 x 251 statute miles.
› Read more about Expedition 36