[image-51][image-78] (Highlights: Week of July 1, 2013) The Expedition 36 crew completed the first of three planned test sessions for the Supervision of Autonomous and Teleoperated Satellites-Interact (SATS-Interact) research and all objectives were met. The test session verified the operation of the MATLAB virtual environment that will be used in future research on human-machine interaction. This study effort aimed at drastically improving remote operation of space assets by enabling one user to control multiple maneuvering satellites. The SATS effort is developing Interact, a command and control user interface, which enables one user to supervise the tasking and monitor the activity of a team of remote nanosatellites working on a common mission. The study applies to a broad range of remote autonomous robotic agents. Among those are remote underwater vehicles as well as remote ground vehicles operating in hazardous conditions. SATS research can be extended to implement similar command and control interfaces to these platforms and thus enable improved supervision of these resources. This will have an impact on the quality and effectiveness of utilization of such remote resources working to benefit life here on Earth.
The ground team began the vacuum process for the Hicari study checkout. Hicari is a material science investigation that studies the crystal growth of Silicon-Germanium in the Gradient Heating Furnace. Results will be used in developing more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.
The crew completed the setup and activation for the Sally Ride EarthKAM summer session. EarthKAM is a NASA education program that enables thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew's perspective. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted aboard the space station. This allows them to photograph the Earth's coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The team at EarthKAM then posts these photographs on the Internet for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view.
The ground team continues 24/7 commanding of their first of two planned science runs for the Capillary Channel Flow (CCF) study. Data from the study will help to innovate solutions to transporting liquids (such as fuels, low temperature liquids like liquid nitrogen and water) in microgravity. By understanding capillary fluid flow rates in microgravity, hardware can be developed for "pumping" liquids from one reservoir to another without the need for a pump with moving parts. The reduced cost, weight, and improved reliability of such equipment make this a particularly attractive technology for NASA. Technologies for liquid management in space use capillary forces to position and transport liquids, since the hydrostatic pressure is absent which gives the liquid a defined surface and enables easy withdrawal from the tank bottom. But the effect of capillary forces is limited on Earth to a few millimeters. In space these forces affect free surfaces that extend over meters. For the application of open channels in propellant tanks of spacecrafts, design knowledge of these limitations are a requirement, predicated with a bubble free liquid restriction prior to entering the thrusters.
Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist