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ISS Update: Interviews (June 4-June 8, 2012)
 
Interviews: International Space Station Update
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ISS Update: After the Venus Transit – 06.08.2012
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ISS Update commentator Brandi Dean interviewed astronaut Mario Runco about the results of the Expedition 31 crew’s effort to photograph the Venus transit which lasted several hours. Flight Engineer Don Pettit, who is adept at astronomy photography from orbit, took the majority of photographs and continued working while the rest of the crew went to bed.

Over 1,800 images were taken of the event from the International Space Station. Video of the transit was also captured from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and is shown during the interview. The SDO is a satellite in geosynchronous orbit that provides imagery of the sun at ten times better resolution than high-definition television. Venus’ next transit will be in December 2117.

Pettit used numerous filters during his photography session providing different contrast, color and sharpness of the transit. Removing the scratch panes from the cupola windows reduced the blurriness of the sun’s edges and revealed sun spots.

The International Space Station’s other windows in the U.S. and Russian segments are also optical quality windows and were used to capture imagery during the event.



ISS Update: Suitport Testing – 06.07.2012
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ISS Update commentator Lynnette Madison interviewed Joel Maganza, Test Director for the unmanned Suitport test, in the control room for Thermal Vacuum Chamber B. It is the only human-rated thermal vacuum chamber in the world because it is the only one that can simulate thermal and vacuum properties of outer space.

The Suitport is a new idea for a spacesuit that eliminates the need for an airlock. It reduces consumables and enables easier and more efficient spacewalking.

The test in Chamber B will help engineers understand the forces affecting the outside of the suit at 6.4 pounds per square inch absolute (PSIA). The test includes four runs over two days covering the unmanned requirements.

The unmanned Suitport test will require a few engineers and technicians. When manned testing of the Suitport begins there will be many more workers and observers including a doctor and rescue personnel due to the hazardous nature of thermal vacuum chamber testing.



ISS Update: Suitport – 06.07.2012
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ISS Update commentator Lynnette Madison interviewed Mallory Jenning, Suitport Human Testing Lead, about the Suitport. The Suitport is a new idea for a spacesuit that eliminates the need for an airlock. It reduces consumables and enables easier and more efficient spacewalking.

The Suitport would eliminate the need for hours of preparation before every spacewalk. For future spacewalks on asteroids or planets, an astronaut could quickly jump in the suit as the need arose, such as discovering a new rock or surface feature, reducing lengthy planning and creating more productive missions.

A potential spacewalk with the Suitport could take just 15 minutes to get ready while only working outside for 30 minutes. The Suitport would also prevent contamination of the habitat with dust picked up from outside.

Engineers at Ames Research Center first developed the Suitport concept. Johnson Space Center has since continued the development as well as testing of the Suitport in real-mission scenarios.



ISS Update: Transit of Venus – 06.05.2012
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ISS Update commentator Brandi Dean interviewed NASA astronaut Mario Runco in the International Space Station flight control room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston. Runco discussed the transit of the planet Venus across the sun that would occur later that afternoon.

While his background is primarily in Earth sciences, Runco was, as he put it, “infected” by Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit’s enthusiasm for astronomy. Runco was also involved in the development of windows on the International Space Station, including the cupola through which Pettit viewed and captured images of Venus’ transit.

The transit marked the first time the station’s cupola was used to observe an astronomical event rather than to observe the Earth, and Runco stated that Pettit was well prepared. Aware that the transit would occur during his time aboard the orbital outpost, “he planned ahead to bring the solar filter on board to be able to do this,” Runco said.

According to Runco, events like the transit of Venus are “points in time that highlight the technology of the time.” People in the future will talk about the history of observing these events, and, he said, the International Space Station is now part of that history.