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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights For August 27--Sept. 07, 2012
09.17.12
 
Robonaut 2 works with task panels in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (NASA) Robonaut 2 works with task panels in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (NASA)
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The Aquatic Habitat, or AQH, will enable the study of fish aboard the International Space Station. (JAXA) The Aquatic Habitat, or AQH, will enable the study of fish aboard the International Space Station. (JAXA)
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This Crew Earth Observation image shows the Sutter Buttes. Sometimes called the “smallest mountain range in the world”, the Sutter Buttes rise almost 610 meters above the surrounding flat agricultural fields of the Great Valley of central California. The Sutter Buttes present a visual contrast with the surrounding green agricultural fields. (NASA) This Crew Earth Observation image shows the Sutter Buttes. Sometimes called the "smallest mountain range in the world", the Sutter Buttes rise almost 610 meters above the surrounding flat agricultural fields of the Great Valley of central California. The Sutter Buttes present a visual contrast with the surrounding green agricultural fields. (NASA)
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(Highlights: August 27 - Sept. 07, 2012) -- Robonaut 2 conducted activities with task panels C and D for the first time. On August 27, Robonaut calibrated the location of task panel C. It then located, grasped and seized the handrail through automated scripts. On August 28, in addition to repeating the tasks of the previous day, Robonaut removed a cleaning wipe from a package mounted to task panel D and proceeded to wipe the exterior face of the handrail on panel C with manual and automated commanding. 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.

New activities were conducted for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Multi-mission Consolidated Equipment (MCE) investigation. The five unique missions that share the MCE bus platform are expected to perform experiments and observations on orbit for two years with a possible extra year for extended science gain. The ground team successfully completed deployment of the Inflatable Material experimental Plate. IMAP studies the energy and plasma activity and related global transportation near the rim of the atmosphere, at the highest altitudes, using a visible light spectrometer. The team also continued checkouts of REXJ, which demonstrates realtime ground control of a robotic system by providing validation data during robotic manipulation. This investigation is expected to lead to an application of a spacewalk assistant-type robot.

A crew member took a dust sampling 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.

Ground teams continue to observe protein crystal growth for the In-situ Observation of Growth Mechanisms of Protein Crystals and Their Perfection in Microgravity (Nano Step). The Nano Step investigation is aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms involved in the growth of high-quality protein crystals in microgravity, which, for example, may contribute to the development of medical treatments on Earth.

Initial on-orbit checkouts were made to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Aquatic Habitat (AQH). AQH is a close circulatory aquarium which can breed twelve adult Medaka fish or eight adult Zebra fish for up to 90 days. The AQH, described as a "fish friendly facility" in a recent article, will investigate the effects on individual life systems induced by spaceflight by using the fish as "model specimens." AQH aims to increase understanding of mechanisms of bone degradation, muscle atrophy and radiation effects, and reducing that risk to astronauts. The AQH checkout was in preparation for the first fish launch on Oct. 15 aboard the next Soyuz launch.

A crew member completed the Exploration Design Challenge Demo for the Education Payload Operations - Demonstrations EPO-Demos. The video will be used to launch an engineering design contest related to the anticipated Orion mission and the challenge of radiation protection. The video will also be edited and posted to an upcoming NASA education website highlighting space life sciences.

Through Sept. 4, 8,465 images have been received for reviewing and cataloging for the Crew Earth Observations investigation (CEO). Recent images include Yellow River Delta, China; Lagoon of Venice, Italy; and Krasnodar floods in southern Russia. 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, Space Headaches, Integrated Cardiovascular, and Reaction Self Test.

John Love, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 31/32


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