Following yesterday’s decision by mission managers to forego a second deployment of the Spartan solar science satellite, the crew and flight control teams focused their attention on the final three days of the science portion of Columbia’s STS-87 mission.
Continued work in the mini laboratory called the microgravity glovebox facility allowed crew members to interactively work with two different experiments today studying the formation of composite materials in an attempt to accurately map the roles of gravity-induced convection and sedimentation on the samples. Late in the work day, the study of the effects of different air flow velocities on the stability of an enclosed flame continued. These jet diffusion flames are similar to the kind used in industrial combustion processes and jet afterburners.
About three days of experiment work remains before the routine day before landing activities will require the attention of the crew members and the flight controllers. The United States Microgravity Laboratory experiments in the payload bay continue to operate normally, save the Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace which was shut down for the remainder of the flight due to abnormal temperature readings in one of the samples being processed.
Yesterday’s decision to pass up a re-deployment of the Spartan satellite was made to ensure a complete mission of the USMP experiments and to protect the shuttle’s propellant margins.
Status checks continued today on the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment investigating plant growth in space. Leonid Kadenyuk discussed the experiment with students from his home country in an early morning interactive event. He plans to conduct a similar educational event with U.S. students mid morning.
The six crew members are scheduled to go to sleep just before noon today and wake up at about 7:45 tonight.
The next mission status report will be issued at about 6 p.m. today.
- end -