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For release: 04-14-04, w/e 04-09-04
Science Ops status report #: 04-109

International Space Station Expedition 8 Science Operations status report for the week ending April 9, 2004

International Space Station Commander and Science Officer Mike Foale

The Expedition 8 crew aboard the International Space Station has successfully finished the last sample run of the Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation. The Marshall Center experiment, led by principal investigator Dr. Richard Grugel, has run 21 samples since the first sample was processed on-orbit in September 2002. The experiment studies bubble formation in microgravity, giving scientists insight to improve solidification processing on future experiments in space and similar processes here on Earth.

Photo: International Space Station Commander and Science Officer Mike Foale (NASA/JSC)

The Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI) successfully finished its last sample run for Expedition 8. PFMI has run 21 samples since the first sample was processed on-orbit in September 2002. The experiment melts materials at high temperatures, so it is operated inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. As the sample was processed, a video system allowed scientists working at the telescience center at the Marshall Center to watch as bubbles formed and moved around in the transparent modeling material sample. Bubbles that become trapped in metals or crystals can form defects that decrease the material's strength and usefulness. By studying bubble formation in microgravity, scientists will gain insights to improve solidification processing on future space experiments and similar processes on Earth.

Science Officer Mike Foale recently wore a special pair of Lycra cycling tights that measure how much stress his legs and feet endure on a typical day for his final session with the Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight or FOOT experiment. Foale donned the specially instrumented lower extremity monitoring suit and shoes fitted with insoles that measure his reaction forces against the Space Station. This experiment will provide a better understanding of the bone loss and muscle mass loss experienced by astronauts in microgravity. The theories being explored in this project also have significance for understanding, preventing, and treating osteoporosis on Earth.

The Protein Crystal Growth - Single Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES) reached a milestone on April 9th, operating continuously for 500 days since it began running on Expedition 6. The Single-locker Thermal Enclosure System (STES) for the structural biology experiment is an incubator/refrigerator module that can house different devices for growing protein crystals in microgravity. These experiments may improve our understanding of the function of important protein crystals and possibly contribute to the development of new therapeutics.

NASA's payload operations team at the Marshall Center coordinates science activities on Space Station.

For supporting materials for this news release - such as photographs, fact sheets, video and audio files and more - please visit the NASA Marshall Center Newsroom Web site at:


For more information:
Status report
Expedition 8 experiment fact sheets
Science Operations News

Steve Roy
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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