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Weekly Recap From the Expedition Lead Scientist
May 31, 2013
 

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, Expedition 33 flight engineer, performs ultrasound eye imaging in the Columbus laboratory of the International Space Station. (NASA) Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, Expedition 33 flight engineer, performs ultrasound eye imaging in the Columbus laboratory of the International Space Station. (NASA)
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Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 in orbit. (NASA) Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 in orbit. (NASA)
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(Highlights: week of May 20, 2013) - The Expedition 36 crew completed the fundoscope checkout in preparation for Ocular Health operations. This investigation will gather physiological data to characterize the risk and define the visual and central nervous system changes observed during a six-month stay in microgravity. The study will collect data from test subjects before, during and after a visit to the orbiting lab. This may help patients suffering from eye diseases such as glaucoma, and diseases of the brain like hydrocephalus and idiopathic intracranial hypertension.

The crew successfully performed the replacement of two igniter tips, a fuel reservoir and the combustion chamber front-end cap seals for the Flame Extinguishment Experiment (FLEX). Once these routine consumables were replaced, the facility was back to nominal and processed several heptane test points in a xenon/nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere. FLEX will assess the effectiveness of fire suppressants in microgravity and quantify the effect of different possible crew exploration atmospheres on fire suppression. The goal of this research is to provide definition and direction for large-scale fire suppression tests and selection of the fire suppressant for next generation crew exploration vehicles. The investigation will help scientists develop more efficient energy production and propulsion systems on Earth and in space. FLEX will help in the understanding to deal better with combustion-generated pollution, and address fire hazards associated with using liquid combustibles on Earth.

Photos were taken of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02) wake radiator to assist with characterizing some potential surface discoloration. AMS-02 is a particle physics detector that collects information from cosmic sources that will help to advance scientists' knowledge about the low Earth orbit space radiation environment. Results from AMS-02 will be used to improve understanding of the universe as it currently exists as well as its origin.

The final run of Seedling Growth-1 was successfully completed. Samples will remain frozen in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) until they're returned on SpaceX 3 at the end of the year. Plants play an important role in future planning for long-term space missions as they serve as a source of food and generate breathable air for crew members. Seedling Growth-1 focuses on the effects of gravity and light on plant growth, development and cell division. In the long term, this research is relevant to improving the characteristics of crop plants to benefit human agriculture on Earth.



Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 35/36


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