Columbia’s astronauts were awakened at 3:55 a.m. CDT today to begin their third week of studying how the brain and nervous system adapt to the weightless environment of space.
Overnight, flight controllers continued to work on possible solutions to an apparent blockage in Columbia’s waste water dump line. Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman yesterday bypassed a clogged filter, routed a hose through a spare filter and vented waste water overboard, but the blockage remained.
Columbia’s science crew will turn its attention to dexterity tests and dissections of additional rat neonates and the ball-catch experiment. Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Dave Williams and Payload Specialist Jim Pawelczyk will dissect the newborn rats. The dexterity test will test the response of young rats as they are tilted and turned while walking and climbing on a special apparatus with various surfaces. Later, all four payload crew members will repeat the ball-catch experiment. This experiment studies the ability of the central nervous system to accept and interpret new stimuli in space. The astronauts have performed this test at various points in the mission so scientists can compare their responses as their bodies adapt to weightlessness.
Mission Specialist Kay Hire will deactivate the Biotechnology Demonstration System (BDS), which is being used to grow human kidney cells and bone marrow cells in three dimensions. This afternoon, Hire will be interviewed by WALA-TV and the Press Register, both of Mobile, Ala. This event will be carried on NASA Television at 2:09 p.m. CDT.
Hire, Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman will continue to hone their piloting skills in preparation for Sunday’s planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center by once again using the Portable In-flight Landing Operations Trainer (PILOT). Consisting of a laptop computer and a joystick system, PILOT helps to maintain a high level of proficiency for the end-of-mission approach and landing tasks required to bring Columbia safely back to Earth after this long mission.
Altman also plans to replenish the air supply for the crickets living in the Botany Experiment Incubator (BOTEX) unit onboard. This experiment with crickets in various stages of development will provide information about the relative importance of the environment and other external stimuli such as gravity on nervous system development. Linnehan, Searfoss and Hire also will carry out routine husbandry tasks for the rodents on board.
The preliminary weather forecast at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday looks favorable for a landing at 11:09 a.m. CDT.
Columbia remains in a 151 x 131 nautical mile orbit, circling the Earth every 90 minutes.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 6 p.m. Friday or as events warrant.
UPCOMING EVENTS ON NASA TV, MAY 1, 1998
MET CDT EDT
NASA VIDEO FILE 13/21:41 11:00 AM 12:00 PM
WALA-TV/MOBILE PRESS REGISTER 14/00:50 02:09 PM 03:09 PM TELEVISION INTERVIEW
MISSION STATUS BRIEFING/ 14/01:11 02:30 PM 03:30 PM ANIMAL SCIENCE BRIEFING
FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS 14/02:41 04:00 PM 05:00 PM
CREW ACTIVITY REPORT / 14/03:41 05:00 PM 06:00 PM FLIGHT DAY HIGHLIGHTS REPLAY / VIDEO FILE REPLAY (replayed every hour on the hour through crew wake up)
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