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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights for the Final Weeks of October 2012
11.13.12
 
This Crew Earth Observation image shows Baltimore at night. Located on the US mid-Atlantic coastline along the terminus of the Patapsco River into Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is the largest seaport along this part of the coast. Like many large metropolitan areas, the most brightly lit area corresponds to the highest density of buildings and typically indicates the urban core -- in this case, downtown Baltimore at image center. Highways and large arterial streets appear as bright yellow-orange lines extending outwards from the downtown area into the surrounding suburban regions. (NASA) This Crew Earth Observation image shows Baltimore at night. Located on the US mid-Atlantic coastline along the terminus of the Patapsco River into Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is the largest seaport along this part of the coast. Like many large metropolitan areas, the most brightly lit area corresponds to the highest density of buildings and typically indicates the urban core -- in this case, downtown Baltimore at image center. Highways and large arterial streets appear as bright yellow-orange lines extending outwards from the downtown area into the surrounding suburban regions. (NASA)
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(Highlights: final week of Oct. 2012) --Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Medaka Osteoclast is underway on the station. Living organisms, including astronauts, lose bone mineral density during long duration spaceflight. Increased activity of osteoclasts, a bone resorption cell that is responsible for resorption or breakdown of bone, is hypothesized to cause the decrease of bone mineral density during spaceflight. This investigation studies Medaka fish in special aquariums in the Kibo module on the station. Medaka fish is a model animal for the life science research, and JAXA plans to study the effects of microgravity on the osteoclast activity and the gravity sensing system of the fish. Crew members report the Medaka fish are very healthy and have eaten a lot of food. Feeding and monitoring of the fish will continue through December, for 60 days of observation.

Convective Flow test points using 100% decane fuel were successfully run for the Flame Extinguishment Experiment -2 (FLEX-2). FLEX-2 encompasses five distinct investigation classes using pure and bi-component mixed fuels. The results from these test points will lead to greater fuel efficiency of liquid-fuel engines and will minimize pollutant emissions. On Earth, FLEX-2 will help in the understanding of combustion generated pollution, and address fire hazards associated with using liquid combustibles.

More sampling was completed in the Japanese Experiment Module, or Kibo, for the Microbial Dynamics in the International Space Station - III (Microbe-III) investigation. Microbe-III monitors the abundance and diversity of fungi and bacteria in Kibo, which may affect the health of crew members. The study uses new sampling techniques and environmental microbiological methods for environmental analysis. The results will be used to produce a microbiologically safe environment which is essential for a long-term stay in space. Samples of this investigation were returned on SpaceX-1.

Through Oct. 30, Crew Earth Observations investigation (CEO) has returned 7,612 images to the ground for reviewing and cataloging. Recent images include Mount Shasta, Calif., and Baltimore at night. For this investigation, station crew members photograph natural and human-made changes on Earth. These images provide researchers with key data to better understand the planet.

The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HREP-HICO) Experiment Payload has taken 6,718 images to-date, including recent images of part of Australia's coastline, the Dead Sea and the Danube Delta. The investigation analyzes the water clarity, chlorophyll content, water depth and ocean or sea floor composition for naval purposes.

Commander Sunita Williams completed the final session with the Evaluation of Maximal Oxygen Uptake and Submaximal estimates of VO2max before, during and after long-duration space station missions (VO2max). The investigation documents changes in maximum oxygen uptake over long-duration missions. The data obtained from this study provides valuable insight into the aerobic capacity of teams in closed environments on the station and on Earth in Arctic bases and submarines. Williams also completed in-flight activities for the European Space Agency-sponsored Thermoregulation in Humans During Long-Term Spaceflight (Thermolab) investigation. Thermolab investigates how the body heats up and afterwards cools down in microgravity and then compares these temperature curves with the ones measured on the same crew member on the ground before and after the mission. Williams is the last valid test subject for both VO2max and Thermolab, as the number of required participants has been met to complete the investigations. Twelve test subjects, plus two insurance subjects, completed 64 on-orbit sessions.

Other human research investigations continued for various crew members including, ALTEA-Shield, Space Headaches, SPRINT, EKE, Circadian Rhythms, Treadmill Kinematics, and Reaction Self Test.

Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 33/34


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