International Space Station: Expedition 13 Science Overview
-- the 13th science research mission on the International Space Station -- is scheduled to begin in April 2006, when the 13th crew launches on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the space station.
A two-person crew of NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams
and Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov
is assigned to the 12S mission, for the 12th Soyuz to visit the station. The crew will work with teams on the ground to operate experiments, collect data and maintain the space station.
The current Expedition 12 crew, William McArthur
and Valery Tokarev
, is scheduled to return home in April on another Soyuz spacecraft -- 11S -- now docked at the station.
During Expedition 13, two Russian Progress cargo flights -- called 21P and 22P for the 21st and 22nd Progress vehicles -- are scheduled to dock with the space station in April and June 2006, respectively. The re-supply ships will transport scientific equipment and supplies to the station.
Many Expedition 13 research activities will be carried out using scientific facilities and samples already on board the space station, along with new research facilities transported during the next shuttle mission, STS-121. NASA's second Return to Flight test flight, a Space Shuttle Discovery mission, is scheduled for launch in May 2006.
The research agenda for the expedition remains flexible. The Expedition 13 crew has scheduled about 170 hours for U.S. payload activities. Space station science also will be conducted remotely by the team of controllers and scientists on the ground, who will continue to plan, monitor and operate experiments from control centers across the United States.
A team of controllers for Expedition 13 will work in the Payload Operations Center
-- the science command post for the space station -- at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Controllers work in three shifts around the clock, seven days a week in the Payload Operations Center, which links researchers around the world with their experiments and the station crew.
Experiments Related to Spacecraft Systems
Many experiments are designed to help develop technologies, designs and materials for future spacecraft and exploration missions. These experiments include:
Dust and Aerosol Measurement Feasibility Test (DAFT)
will test the effectiveness of a device that counts ultra-fine dust particles in a microgravity environment, a precursor to the next generation of fire detection equipment for exploration vehicles.
Materials on the International Space Station Experiment (MISSE -- 3/4
) are suitcase-sized test beds attached to the outside of the space station. The beds expose hundreds of potential space construction materials and different types of solar cells to the harsh environment of space. After spending about a year mounted to the space station, the equipment will be returned to Earth for study. Investigators will use the resulting data to design stronger, more durable spacecraft.
Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES)
are bowling-ball sized spherical satellites. They will be used inside the space station to test control algorithms for spacecraft by performing autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers. The results are important for designing constellation and array spacecraft configurations.
Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE)
, a suite of fluid physics flight experiments, will study how fluids behave in space. Because fluids behave differently in low gravity, this information will be valuable for engineers designing spacecraft cooling systems, life support systems and the many other types of equipment that use fluids to operate.
Space Experiment Module (SEM)
allows students to research the effects of microgravity, radiation and space flight on various materials. This encourages students to probe into the physics of radiation, microgravity and space flight through planning, performing and analyzing materials experiments on board the station.
Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS)
and Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS-II)
measure vibration and quasi-steady accelerations that result from vehicle control burns, docking and undocking activities. The two different equipment packages measure vibrations at different frequencies.
Human Life Science Investigations
Measurements of Expedition 13 crewmembers will be used to study changes in the body caused by exposure to the microgravity environment. Continuing and new experiments include:
Behavioral Issues Associated with Isolation and Confinement: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals
uses journals kept by the crew and surveys to study the effect of isolation to obtain quantitative data on the importance of different behavioral issues in long-duration crews. Results will help design equipment and procedures to allow astronauts to best cope with isolation and long duration spaceflight.
Chromosomal Aberrations in Blood Lymphocytes of Astronauts 2 (Chromosome-2)
, a European Space Agency payload, is a continuation of the Chromosome investigation performed on earlier expeditions. It will study the incidence aberrations in chromosomes following long duration spaceflight. By improving the knowledge genetic risks faced by astronauts in space, the study seeks to optimize radiation shielding.
The Renal Stone
experiment tests the effectiveness of potassium citrate in preventing renal stone formation during long-duration spaceflight. Kidney stone formation is a significant risk during long duration space flight that could impair astronaut functionality.
Space Flight-Induced Reactivation of Latent Epstein-Barr Virus (Epstein-Barr)
performs tests to study changes in human immune function. Using blood and urine samples collected before and after space flight, the study will provide insight for possible countermeasures to prevent the potential development of infectious illness in crewmembers during flight.
Anomalous Long Term Effects in Astronauts' Central Nervous System (ALTEA)
integrates several diagnostic technologies to measure the exposure of crewmembers to cosmic radiation. It will further our understanding of the impact of radiation on the human central nervous and visual systems. It also will provide an assessment of the radiation environment in the station.
Other Biological Experiments
Studies of the responses of microbes in the space environment will also help to evaluate risks to human health. Plant growth experiments also give insight into the effects of the space environment on living organisms. These experiments include:
A Comprehensive Characterization of Microorganisms and Allergens in Spacecraft (Swab)
will use advanced molecular techniques to comprehensively evaluate microbes on board the space station, including pathogens -- organisms that may cause disease. It also will track changes in the microbial community as spacecraft visit the station and new station modules are added. This study will allow an assessment of the risk of microbes to the crew and the spacecraft.
Passive Observatories for Experimental Microbial Systems (POEMS)
will evaluate the effect of stress in the space environment on the generation of genetic variation in model microbial cells. POEMS will provide important information to help evaluate risks to humans flying in space to further understand bacterial infections that may occur during long duration space missions.
Analysis of a Novel Sensory Mechanism in Root Phototropism (Tropi)
will observe the growth and collect samples of plants sprouted from seeds. By analyzing the samples at a molecular level, researchers gain insight on what genes are responsible for successful plant growth in microgravity.
Experiments Using On-board Resources
Many experiments from earlier expeditions remain on board the space station and will continue to benefit from the long-term research platform provided by the orbiting laboratory. These experiments include:
Crew Earth Observations (CEO)
takes advantage of the crew in space to observe and photograph natural and human-made changes on Earth. The photographs record the Earth's surface changes over time, along with more fleeting events such as storms, floods, fires and volcanic eruptions. Together, they provide researchers on Earth with vital, continuous images to better understand the planet.
Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM)
, an education experiment, allows middle school students to program a digital camera on board the station to photograph a variety of geographical targets for study in the classroom.
Space Shuttle Experiments
Many other experiments are scheduled to be performed during the space shuttle STS-121 mission. These experiments include:
Fungal Pathogenesis, Tumorigenesis, and Effects of Host Immunity in Space (FIT)
studies the susceptibility to fungal infection, progression of radiation-induced tumors and changes in immune function in sensitized Drosophila, or fruit fly lines.
Incidence of Latent Virus Shedding During Spaceflight (Latent Virus)
will determine the frequencies of reactivation of latent viruses -- viruses that are inactive in the body and can be reactivated, such as cold sores -- and clinical diseases after exposure to the physical, physiological, and psychological stressors associated with space flight. Understanding latent virus reactivation may be critical to crew health during extended space missions as crewmembers live and work in a closed environment.
Bioavailablity and Performance Effects Of Promethazine During Spaceflight (PMZ)
will examine the bioavailability and performance impacting side-effects of this medication. Promethazine is a medication taken by the astronauts to prevent motion sickness.
Effect of Space Flight on Microbial Gene Expression and Virulence (Microbe)
will investigate the effects of the space flight environment on the infectiousness of three model microbial pathogens identified during previous space flight missions as potential threats to crew health.
Maui Analysis of Upper Atmospheric Injections (MAUI)
observes the exhaust plume of the space shuttle from the ground, leading to an assessment of spacecraft plume interactions with the upper atmosphere.
Ram Burn Observations (RAMBO)
is a Department of Defense experiment that observes Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System engine burns by satellite for the purpose of improving plume models. Understanding the spacecraft engine plume flow could be significant to the safe arrival and departure of spacecraft on current and future exploration missions.
Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Spaceflight -- Short (Sleep-Short) will examine the effects of space flight on the sleep-wake cycles of the astronauts during space shuttle missions. Advancing state-of-the-art technology for monitoring, diagnosing and assessing treatment is vital to treating insomnia on Earth and in space.
New Space Station Facilities
Two new space station facilities are scheduled to be launched on STS-121.
Minus Eighty-degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) is a cold storage unit that will maintain experiment samples at temperatures of -80°C, -26°C, or +4°C throughout a mission.
European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) is a large incubator that will provide control over the atmosphere, lighting and humidity of growth chambers used to study plant growth. The facility was developed by the European Space Agency.
Destiny Laboratory Facilities
Several research facilities are in place on board the station in support of Expedition 13 science investigations.
The Human Research Facility
is designed to house and support life sciences experiments. It includes equipment for lung function tests, ultrasound to image the heart and many other types of computers and medical equipment.
Human Research Facility-2 provides an on-orbit laboratory that enables human life science researchers to study and evaluate the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes induced by space flight.
The Microgravity Science Glovebox
has a large front window and built-in gloves to provide a sealed environment for conducting science and technology experiments. The glovebox is particularly suited for handling hazardous materials when a crewmember is present.
The Destiny lab also is outfitted with five EXPRESS Racks. EXPRESS, or Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station, racks are standard payload racks designed to provide experiments with utilities such as power, data, cooling, fluids and gasses. The racks support payloads in disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and medicines. The racks stay in orbit, while experiments are changed as needed. EXPRESS Racks 2
are equipped with the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS)
for countering minute vibrations from crew movement or operating equipment that could disturb delicate experiments.
For fact sheets, imagery and more on Expedition 13 experiments and payload operations, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html