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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights For the Week of April 02, 2012
04.17.12
 
This Crew Earth Observation photograph highlights classical geological structures associated with a tectonic rift valley, in this case the Eastern Branch of the East African Rift near Kenya’s southern border with Tanzania and just south of the Equator. (NASA) This Crew Earth Observation photograph highlights classical geological structures associated with a tectonic rift valley, in this case the Eastern Branch of the East African Rift near Kenya's southern border with Tanzania and just south of the Equator. The East African Rift is one of the great tectonic features of Africa, caused by fracturing of the Earth's crust. The Nubian, or African, plate includes the older continental crust of Africa to the west, while the Somalian plate that is moving away includes the Horn of Africa. Together with the associated Ethiopian Rift to the northeast, the tectonic boundary stretches from the southern Red Sea to central Mozambique. (NASA)
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(Highlights: Week of April 02, 2012) -- Flame tests are complete for the Structure and Liftoff In Combustion Experiment (SLICE). More than 100 ignitions were completed with over 4,000 photographs of 600 flame conditions. SLICE investigates the nature of flames in microgravity. The final sessions included the remaining 70 percent methane, 100 percent propane and the 100 percent ethylene. Soot was observed in the 70 percent methane flames, which was not expected. However, due to the near absence of buoyant convection in microgravity, the reduced velocities lead to longer residence times and enhanced soot production. The results from these investigations could lead to improvements in technologies which aim to reduce pollution emissions and improve burning efficiency for a wide variety of industries.

The Microgravity Science Glovebox was transitioned from SLICE to the Burning And Suppression of Solids (BASS) investigation. Two tests were run. BASS examines the burning and extinction characteristics of a wide variety of fuel samples in microgravity. The BASS investigation will guide strategies for extinguishing accidental fires in microgravity. BASS results contribute to the combustion computational models used in the design of fire detection and suppression systems in microgravity and on Earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Dynamism of Auxin Efflux Facilitators, CsPINs, Responsible for Gravity-regulated Growth and Development in Cucumber (CsPINS-2) investigation began. The activity included seed watering, incubation, sample fixation and stowage. CsPINs refers to a protein that facilitates the formation of a physical feature upon roots during the seedling growth stage of plants. CsPINs studies how plants sense gravity as an environmental signal and use it for governing their morphology and growth orientation.

Several NanoRacks module investigations that were carried to the station on the European Space Agency's ATV-3 are now activated. A miniature robot experiment, a concrete mixing and setting experiment, and a plant growth experiment are among this set of investigations. Nanoracks are autonomous, self-contained, high school experiments which are plugged into a NanoRacks-CubeLabs Platform aboard the station. The long-term goal of this project is to create a series of student projects that are sophisticated and economically efficient, allowing students to move beyond the classrooms and into low earth orbit with their research.

Crew members made successful contacts with schools in North Carolina, California, Switzerland and Australia as part of the International Space Station HAM Radio (ISS HAM Radio) investigation. By utilizing ham radios, students get interested in space exploration by talking directly with the crews living and working aboard the space station.

Crew members completed sessions with the Nutritional Status Assessment (Nutrition) investigation. This comprehensive in-flight study is designed to understand changes in human physiology during long-duration spaceflight. They also completed sessions of the Dietary Intake Can Predict and Protect Against Changes in Bone Metabolism during Spaceflight and Recovery (Pro K) investigation. It is NASA's first evaluation of a dietary countermeasure to lessen bone loss of astronauts.

162,921 images have been received for reviewing and cataloging for the Crew Earth Observation (CEO). 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.



John Love, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 30/31


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