Research continued aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia today as the seven astronauts aboard continued to work in shifts, coordinating work with investigators on the ground.
Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon of the Red Team began their workday about 5 a.m. CST, focusing again on work with the SOFBALL (Structures of Flame Balls) experiment and the ARMS (Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System) human physiology experiment. Husband maneuvered Columbia into the proper positions for the various experiments.
The two teams have completed seven SOFBALL runs so far, including the first of several using methane as a fuel, which is visible to the naked eye as a faint blue flame. This evening, the Blue Team will attempt the longest planned test, lasting 2 hours, 47 minutes, while the shuttle is placed in a “free drift” configuration to eliminate thruster firings that could affect the test.
Pilot Willie McCool and Mission Specialists Dave Brown and Michael Anderson of the Blue Team were awakened about 2:30 p.m. to the sounds of “Hotel California” performed by members of McCool’s family. Their duty shift was scheduled to begin about 5 p.m. after a pre-bedtime handover from the Red Team.
The Blue Team also will resume work with the Mechanics of Granular Materials experiment, looking at how sandy soil full of water behaves under pressure. Three compressions are planned over the next two days, with a final run set for later in the mission.
The study of spiral moss growth in space completed a set of time-critical fixations on several sets of moss plants, so that their growth rates can be established after the flight. Four more fixations are planned. The Astroculture experiment harvested the last of its six samples of essential oils from rose and rice flowers, which could eventually result in new perfume fragrances. Checks of all of the insects, spiders and animals aboard Columbia showed that all are healthy in their enclosures.
Flight controllers and the crew continue to manage temperatures in the Spacehab Research Double Module by periodically adjusting cooling loop settings. Columbia is in good shape, orbiting at an altitude of 180 statute miles.
The next STS-107 status report will be issued Saturday afternoon, or earlier, if events warrant.
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