Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao this week extended his reach beyond the confines of the pressurized compartments of the International Space Station as he and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov near the one month mark in space since launch Oct. 14.
As is the case with every Station crew, practice sessions with the station's 58-foot robotic arm -- Canadarm2 -- are scheduled early in the increment to exercise the arm and provide practical training for astronauts. Monday, Chiao, in the Destiny Laboratory, used the arm to provide engineers in the Mission Evaluation Room of Mission Control video of a protective panel on the outside the module. A possible indentation was seen there in imagery from the most recent Space Shuttle mission to the Station in November 2002 (STS-113/11A).
Chiao positioned the arm so that cameras could zoom in on the area. The video helped engineers determine that the indentation was not caused by a micrometeoroid or debris strike. The flat spot on the lab shield appeared to be similar to flattened areas seen in shields on the Unity module.
Engineering analysis of the imagery showed these flat spots can occur on the forward and aft triangles of the shields possibly as the result of temperature changes. The shields' protective function and fit is not affected.
Earlier today, Chiao again took command of the robot arm and moved it into position to allow its cameras to view the relocation of the crew's Soyuz spacecraft, a maneuver scheduled for Nov. 29. The crew will fly the Soyuz from the Pirs Docking Compartment to a docking port on the Zarya Control Module. The move will clear the Pirs module for two Russian spacewalks in 2005.
While the crew continued routine housekeeping and exercise chores, scientific research work continued as well. The focus of attention this week was the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test (BCAT), which investigates long-term behavior of particles suspended in various liquids such as ink, paint and milk, in microgravity. Chiao worked with the experiment twice this week to assist investigators in determining what types of colloids should be studied by future crews. Ultimately, the data could help in development of new products for the communications and computer industries.
At midweek, Chiao tried to fix a faulty U.S. spacesuit pump that caused a lack of cooling as discovered in testing during Expedition 9 earlier this year. The work was halted when a small washer-shaped shim could not be found. Flight controllers ended the search Thursday and will evaluate the next course of action. The U.S. suits are not scheduled for use until Space Shuttle flights resume. A new shim may be delivered to the Station aboard the next Progress resupply craft in December.
On Thursday, a circuit breaker tripped aboard the Station that had been powering several pieces of crew equipment. The circuit breaker remains off while the crew and ground teams plan to check the equipment that had been powered. The equipment includes a laptop, the cycle ergometer and a light. Those items will be tested to ensure no problems with them caused the breaker to trip. Today, the crew took photos of the setup for engineers on the ground.
Among activities next week will be a reboost of the Station's altitude, a maneuver performed periodically to maintain the complex's orbit.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/
The next ISS status report will be issued on Friday, Nov. 19, or earlier if events warrant.
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