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Lead Increment Scientist's Highlights For the First Week of August 2012
This image shows an Advanced Colloids Experiment-1 sample module. (NASA) This image shows an Advanced Colloids Experiment-1 sample module. (NASA)
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(Highlights: First Week of August 2012) -- A nine-day sample run began for the Advanced Colloids Experiment-1, ACE-1 . This is the first in a series of microscopic imaging investigations of materials which contain small colloidal particles, which have the specific characteristic of remaining evenly dispersed and distributed within the material. The experiment requires crew members to set up sample runs in the Light Microscopy Module, or LMM, facility. The microscope is controlled from the ground and pictures of the samples are downlinked to investigators for analysis and planning. This investigation takes advantage of the unique microgravity environment to separate the effects induced by Earth's gravity in order to examine flow characteristics and the evolution and ordering effects within these colloidal materials. Engineering and manipulating materials in this way increases fundamental knowledge, and in the future may help enhance our ability to produce, store and manipulate materials that rely on similar physical properties here on Earth.

A session was completed of the Vane Gap 2 operations for the Capillary Flow Experiments - 2 (CFE-2). This suite of fluid physics investigations studies how fluids move up surfaces in microgravity. The results aim to improve current computer models that are used by designers of low-gravity fluid systems and may improve transfer systems for water on future spacecraft. On Earth, CFE-2 results also may be used to improve fluid flow in miniaturized biological devices used for health screening and analysis.

The first ever session of the European Space Agency's Circadian Rhythms investigation was completed. Circadian Rhythms, or the human body's 24-hour light-dark cycle, looks at whether long duration spaceflight significantly affects synchronization of the human circadian rhythm due to changes in body composition, reduced physical activity, and/or changes of heat transfer, thermoregulation, and non-24-hour light-dark cycles in space. The main objective of this investigation is to obtain an improved basic understanding of any alterations in circadian rhythms in humans during long-term space missions and the impacts to crew member health and wellbeing. The Circadian Rhythms investigation attempts to understand the time course and basic principles of the adaptations of the human autonomic nervous system in space. This offers a unique setting in which to compare related nervous system and shift-work disorders here on Earth.

Initial on-orbit operations for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's investigation, In-situ Observation of Growth Mechanisms of Protein Crystals and Their Perfection in Microgravity (Nano Step), also were performed. The Nano Step investigation is aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms involved in the growth of high quality protein crystals in microgravity, which, for example, may contribute to the development of medical treatments on Earth.

Human research investigations continued for various crew members including, SPRINT, Journals, Vessel Imaging, Treadmill Kinematics, Integrated Cardiovascular, Pro K, Nutrition and Vascular.

John Love, Lead Increment Scientist
Expedition 31/32

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