Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights for the Week of Feb. 25, 2013
NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, Expedition 34 commander, performs maintenance on the Amine Swingbed in the Destiny laboratory. (NASA TV)
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NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn conducts a session of the ongoing SPHERES-VERTIGO investigation. (NASA)
View large image(Highlights: week of Feb. 25, 2013) -- NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, Expedition 34 commander, swapped out the gearbox on the Amine Swingbed with a spare in the Destiny laboratory aboard the International Space Station. Commanding from the ground team verified that the valve functions normally. The Amine Swingbed investigation determines if a vacuum-regenerated amine system can effectively remove carbon dioxide from the space station atmosphere using a smaller more efficient vacuum regeneration system. Although designed for human spaceflight missions where ample access to the vacuum of space is available, the technology can be used in earth applications if access to a clean purge gas supply is available.
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield set up Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-3 (CSLM-3) hardware. He also set up the first Sample Processing Unit (SPU) and started the first vacuum vent. The CSLM-3 investigation will process six SPUs in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) during Increment 33/34. CSLM-3 is a materials science investigation that studies the growth (coarsening) of metal tree-like (dendritic) structures. During the casting process, the coarsening of dendrites changes their shape and the spacing between branches of the dendrites, which alters the mechanical properties of the solidified metals and alloys. By understanding how temperature and time control the growth of such dendrites, researchers hope to develop more efficient and economical means of producing higher quality products derived from the casting of molten metals. CSLM-3 is required to operate within the MSG. Crew support during setup, monitoring, processing of samples, data recording and stowing of investigation hardware is necessary.
Inside the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn worked with the bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, during the ground-commanded SPHERES-VERTIGO experiment. Each satellite is an 18-sided polyhedron. The prism-shaped device, called Goggles, is hooked up to the forward-most polyhedron called Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects (VERTIGO). The objective of the experiment is to demonstrate the ability to create a three-dimensional model of an object in space using the free-flying SPHERES robots.
To learn more about the SPHERES-VERTIGO experiment, watch the video below:
Hadfield initiated sample 7, run 2, for the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test (BCAT-C1). The BCAT-C1 experiment will study nano-scale particles dispersed in liquid, known as a colloidal suspension, commonly found in such commercial commodities as paint, electronic polishing compounds and food products. These suspensions will have the unique property that the particles will phase separate (like oil and water) and the particles will self-assemble into crystals that interact strongly with light (like opal). Photographing these samples in microgravity will allow the measurement of these processes while avoiding the effects of particle sinking due to gravity. This study will allow the development of new insights into this important material process.
Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist