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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights for the Week of March 18, 2013
04.01.13
 
European Modular Cultivation System Experiment Container with plant seedling seed cassettes. (NASA) European Modular Cultivation System Experiment Container with plant seedling seed cassettes. (NASA)
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NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield during an ISS Ham Radio session with students. (NASA) NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield during an ISS Ham Radio session with students. (NASA)
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(Highlights: week of March 18, 2013) -- Seedling Growth experiment containers were inserted into the European Modular Cultivation System and hydration began aboard the International Space Station. This is the first of four runs, each about six days in length. Seedling Growth studies the effects of microgravity on the growth of plants and is being performed aboard the space station in collaboration with the European Space Agency. Images of the plants will be captured and downlinked to Earth. Samples of the plants will be harvested and returned to Earth for scientific analysis. The results of this experiment can lead to information that will aid researchers in food production studies concerning future long-duration space missions, as well as data that will enhance crop production on Earth.

The Expedition 35 crew spoke to students at three schools through the ISS Ham Radio from the space station. This technology brings the students and the station astronauts "voice to voice" for a question-and-answer session. In preparation for the "space chats," students research the station and learn about radio waves, amateur radio and related topics. Before their scheduled contact with the station, they prepare a list of questions, many about possible career choices and science activities. As the laboratory passes over a school or another location that receives a signal from the station, there is typically a 5- to 8-minute window to make contact with the crew. Schools that participated in the recent event included Christ the King School in Adelaide, Australia; Ann Richards School in Austin, Texas; and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Ala.

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn removed the Hicari cartridge from the Gradient Heating Furnace (GHF) in the Kobairo Rack for return on SpaceX. The Hicari experiment seeks to create high-quality crystals to develop efficient solar cells and semiconductor electronics.

Marshburn installed the five alloy cartridges into the GHF of the Kobairo rack for the start of the Alloy Semiconductor experiment. He then conducted the first insulation resistance test. This investigation aims to develop a clear understanding of how semiconductor materials grow and crystallize in microgravity. The materials studied also are known to be useful as devices which convert heat into electricity (thermoelectrics). These studies may ultimately shed light on how higher quality crystals may be derived from other materials or incorporated into other devices such as solar cells.

Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 35/36


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