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Crew Wraps Up Robonaut Testing

Robonaut 2 goes to work on a simulated task board in the Destiny lab of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 34 crew of the International Space Station powered up Robonaut 2 for more remote testing Thursday, deployed hardware for a study of the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body and performed routine maintenance on the systems aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Working inside the Destiny laboratory, Commander Kevin Ford activated Robonaut 2 and set up video cameras to record the second of two days of operations in this latest round of testing for the first humanoid robot in space. Ground teams put Robonaut through its paces as they remotely commanded it to operate valves on a task board. Robonaut is a testbed for exploring new robotic capabilities in space, and its form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools and control panels as its human counterparts do aboard the station.

› Read more about Robonaut

Ford, with the assistance of Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn, later performed routine maintenance on the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, one of the toilets aboard the International Space Station. Afterward, the commander disassembled and stowed Robonaut as it awaits its next batch of tests.

Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield

Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield works with Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System hardware in the Columbus lab. Credit: NASA TV

Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield

Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield removes experiment hardware from the Window Observational Research Facility in the Destiny lab. Credit: NASA TV

Marshburn also worked with Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield in the Columbus laboratory to set up hardware for the European Space Agency’s Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES, which studies the effects of microgravity on a crew member’s muscular system during spaceflight. As crew members use the MARES hardware to exercise, it measures seven different human joints, encompassing nine different angular movements, as well as two additional linear movements for the arms and legs.

Hadfield and Marshburn will continue set up of MARES on Friday as they work with Mission Control to troubleshoot an issue that cropped up when they began charging the hardware’s batteries.

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Hadfield also retrieved some detectors for the RaDI-N Bubble Detector experiment, which seeks to characterize the neutron radiation environment of the station.

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Hadfield rounded out his day by partially removing the ISS Agricultural Camera, or ISSAC, from the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) in the Destiny lab. ISSAC, which collected imagery of vegetated areas in the Great Plains of the United States for students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, has completed its operations and is making way for the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV), which is designed to gain experience in automated data acquisition and provide images for disaster monitoring and assessment.

› Read more about ISSAC
› Read more about ISERV

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko spent much of their day recording video of life aboard the space station for a Russian documentary.

Novitskiy also replaced panels in the Zvezda service module and collected some data on the Matryoshka experiment. Named for the traditional set of Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station.

Tarelkin and Romanenko meanwhile worked with a Russian experiment studying plasma crystal formation in microgravity.

Romanenko, along with Marshburn and Hadfield, also had time set aside for crew orientation to become accustomed to living and working aboard the orbiting complex during their first weeks on orbit. The trio arrived in their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft on Dec. 21 to begin a five month stay aboard the complex.