Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) - 01.09.14
Science Objectives for Everyone
The Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) provides a facility for Earth science remote sensing instruments using the Destiny science window with the highest quality optics ever flown on a human-occupied spacecraft.
Science Results for Everyone
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2010 - March 2015
Previous ISS Missions
WORF was launched on Flight 19A (STS-131) at the beginning of Inc. 23 on April 5, 2010. The first photograph taken using WORF occurred on January 21, 2011 by Ag Cam. The facility has been available to support payload operations since that time.
The Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) provides a facility by which remotely operated payloads and crewmembers can perform Earth and space science research, including hand held photography, at the U.S. Laboratory Science Window on the ISS.
WORF is based on an International Standard Payload Rack (ISPR) and utilizes avionics and hardware adapted from the EXPRESS Rack program.
The WORF payload volume is ~0.8m3, and can support concurrent operations of up to three investigations, dependent on available resources. The WORF will also provide access and equipment for crew Earth observations, such as crew restraints, camera brackets, and condensation prevention.
To date, payloads utilizing WORF have focused on geology, agriculture, ranching, environmental and coastal changes, natural disaster assessments, and education.
The U.S. Laboratory Science Window features the highest quality optics ever flown on a human occupied spacecraft. Earth observations/images from space have many applications i.e., they can be used to study global climates, land and sea formations, and crop weather damage and health assessments. Special sensors can also provide important data regarding transient atmospheric and geologic phenomena (hurricanes and volcanic eruptions), as well as act as a test-bed for collecting data for new sensor technology development.
The WORF design uses existing EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack hardware, which includes a Rack Interface Controller (RIC) box for power and data connection, Avionics Air Assembly (AAA) fan for air circulation within the rack, rack fire detection, and appropriate avionics to communicate with the ISS data network. The WORF maximizes the use of U.S. Laboratory Science Window by providing the resources necessary for sensors (cameras, multispectral and hyperspectral scanners, and other instruments) to capture imagery of the Earth and space.
WORF provides the structural, power, and data transfer resources necessary to accommodate concurrent operations of multiple instruments at the U.S. Laboratory Window. WORF includes a means of preventing the formation of condensation on the interior surface of the window and a retractable bump shield to protect the interior window surface from impacts of loose tools and hardware being used in the WORF payload volume during the set-up and changeout of sensor packages by the crew. The interior of the WORF provides a non-reflective, light-tight environment to minimize stray reflections and glare off the window allowing the use of equipment that is sensitive to extremely low energy phenomena such as auroras. An opaque fabric shroud can be attached to the front of the rack to allow crewmembers to work in the WORF without the problem of glare from the U.S. Laboratory interior lights.
The high quality optical window that WORF supports is located on the nadir (Earth facing) side of the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module. The window provides a view of 39.5 degrees forward along the axis of the ISS, 32.2 degrees aft, and a total of 79.1 degrees to port. The window is 508 cm (20 in) in diameter. The window is made up of an assembly of four separate panes. The outermost pane is a replaceable debris pane a little more than 1.0 cm (one third of an inch) thick. It is designed to protect the window from small orbital debris or micrometeoroids that might strike the station. If it is severely damaged, it can be replaced during an EVA. The two middle panes serve as the primary and secondary pressure windows, ensuring that the laboratory module stays pressurized. Each of these panes is 3.2 cm (1-1/4 in) thick. The innermost pane, referred to as the scratch pane, protects against accidental bumps from camera lenses and other equipment during set-up work inside the WORF rack. The scratch pane incorporates a sliding access door, which provides access to the science window for crew Earth observations and instruments not requiring access to the entire window. When the scratch pane is removed, the WORF provides a deployable metal and acrylic bump shield to protect the primary pressure panes while equipment is set up in front of the window. When the sensors are ready for use and the interior of the WORF rack has been secured with a hatch cover, the bump shield can be retracted using controls on the outside of the WORF rack, giving the cameras/sensors a clear view through the window to the Earth below. When the scratch pane (and its heater element) is removed, the WORF rack provides a variable air flow across the window to prevent condensation.
When the WORF is not in use, when visiting spacecraft are docked to the Node 2 nadir location , or when the window is exposed to orbital ram conditions during special orientations of the ISS, the research lab window is protected by a metal cover on the outside of the Destiny lab module. This external window shutter pivots on hinges and can be opened/closed either manually by the crew using controls on the WORF rack or beginning in Increment 41/42 by ground commands using the automated Shutter Actuation System (SAS).
WORF Payload operations consist of crew-tended or automated activities. For crew-tended operations, the WORF hatch is removed and the crew-member can use the payload shroud to block any incoming light from the U.S. Laboratory. For automated operations, the hatch will be installed to protect the payload hardware and commands can be sent to the payload via the ground or WORF laptop computer.
WORF is equipped with several brackets and special surfaces that allow mounting of multiple sensors, cameras or camcorders inside the facility to view out of the window.
WORF operations may either be crew-tended or automated.
Subrack Payloads will be installed in the WORF Payload Volume by the crew.
Commands will be sent by the crew or ground team and science data will be routed by WORF to the ground.
Ground Based Results Publications
Eppler DB, Runco S. Earth Observations Capabilities of the Window Observational Research Facility on Board the International Space Station. Conference and Exhibit on International Space Station Utilization, Cape Canaveral, FL; 2001
- ISS WORF Video (Part 2 of 2)
- Window Observational Research Facility at Marshall Space Flight Center
- ISS WORF Summary
- ISS WORF Video (Part 1 of 2):
NASA Image: ISS013E07988 - Jeff Williams, Expedition 13 Science Officer, at the U.S. Laboratory Science Window on the ISS.
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John Phillips, Expedition 11 Science Officer, with the Window Observation Research Facility (WORF) training rack at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.
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Close up image of the Window Observation Research Facility (WORF) Flight rack at Kennedy Space Center.
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NASA Image: ISS027E023657 - NASA astronaut Ron Garan, Expedition 27 flight engineer, works with ISS Agricultural Camera (ISSAC) hardware in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. ISSAC, a successor of the earlier AgCam, will operate in conjunction with EarthKAM, both instruments to conduct simultaneous but independent operations in the WORF rack in Destiny.
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NASA Image: ISS033E018573 --- Photograph showing different optical cameras and devices mounted in the WORF during Expedition 33.
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