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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights For the Week of August 20, 2012
09.04.12
 
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Expedition 32 flight engineer, works with Robonaut 2 humanoid robot in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (NASA) NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Expedition 32 flight engineer, works with Robonaut 2 humanoid robot in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (NASA)
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This high-resolution image sequence of the BASS investigation shows candle flames burning in low speed air flow.  Air flow direction is from bottom to top.  In the right image the air flow has been turned off and the flame is in the process of extinguishing. Click 'View large image' to see full sequence. (NASA) This high-resolution image sequence of the BASS investigation shows candle flames burning in low speed air flow. Air flow direction is from bottom to top. In the right image the air flow has been turned off and the flame is in the process of extinguishing.Click 'View large image' to see full image sequence. (NASA)
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Panoramic view of
From STS-65, acquired in July 1994, showing the leading edge of Saharan Dust advancing over the Atlantic to the Western Hemisphere. (NASA) At top, this panoramic view of "Saharan Dust Reaches the Americas" provides an excellent comparison with a similar view, bottom, from STS-65, acquired in July 1994, showing the leading edge of Saharan Dust advancing over the Atlantic to the Western Hemisphere. (NASA)
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(Highlights: Week of August 20, 2012) -- More activities were conducted with Robonaut 2, the humanoid robot on the International Space Station. While controlled from the ground, Robonaut rotated a metering valve and a needle valve on a task panel. The robot's cameras took pictures throughout the activity to allow its vision system to determine successful movement of this panel in the future. Robonaut also used its vision system to interact with a different task panel, successfully turning on power to the panel and operating switches, verifying each step with views from its cameras. Robonaut not only looks like a human, but it also is designed to work like one. With human-like hands and arms, Robonaut is able to use the same tools station crew members use. In the future, the greatest benefits of humanoid robots in space may be as assistants for astronauts during spacewalks.

All three software-defined radios were powered on and their basic functions were tested for the Space Communications and Navigation Testbed (SCAN Testbed). NASA's Jet Propulsion Laborator's radio captured the first known civilian reception of L5 Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) signals in space. With protected spectrum, higher power, greater bandwidth, and other features, L5 is designed to support safety-of-life transportation and other high-performance applications. SCAN Testbed consists of reconfigurable software-defined radios with software-based communications and navigation functions that provide mission planners the capability to change the functionality of the radio once on-orbit. The ability to change the operating characteristics of the radio's software after launch offers the flexibility to adapt to new science opportunities and increased data return.

Three tests were successfully completed for the Burning And Suppression of Solids (BASS) investigation. 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. Two samples -- flat acrylic and flat wax -- were tested. The flat wax slab was burned for the first time in BASS. Experiment results contribute to combustion computational models used in the design of fire detection and suppression systems in microgravity and on Earth. These were the final test runs for BASS until December. The BASS hardware was stowed to make room for another investigation in the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

The first activities began for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) investigation. MCE consists of a complement of five payloads that perform science and technological demonstrations. These small investigations include two atmospheric observation investigations that study lightening and resonant scattering from plasma and airglow. Three technological demonstration investigations include: inflatable structure deployment, robotic tether movement and testing a high definition television camera in the space environment.

Through Aug. 21, 7,170 images have been received for reviewing and cataloging for the Crew Earth Observations investigation (CEO). Recent images include La Paz, Bolivia; Lisbon, Portugal; and the Aral Sea. 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.

Other human research investigations continued for various crew members including, ALTEA-Shield, Treadmill Kinematics, SPRINT, Integrated Cardiovascular, Pro K, Nutrition and Reaction Self Test.

John Love, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 31/32


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