ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 100 Increment 28
This is ISS status report #100 from the European Space Agency outlining ESA’s science-related activities that have taken place on the ISS during the past two weeks for different European experiments and experiment facilities.
The report is compiled by ESA’s Astronaut and ISS Utilisation Department in cooperation with ESA’s Columbus and Payload Operations Management and Mission Science teams from the Astronaut and ISS Utilisation Department.
ISS Utilisation Programme
The principal focus of the European utilisation of the ISS is the Columbus laboratory, which was launched and permanently attached to the ISS in February 2008. In addition to the science taking place using the internal and external experiment facilities of the Columbus laboratory, ESA also has some further ongoing research taking place inside the Russian Segment of the ISS and in the US Destiny laboratory. The current status of the European science package on the ISS is as follows:
European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory
Biolab and associated experiments
No activities were carried out using the Biolab facility in the two week period up until 12 August. Biolab is a multi-user facility designed to support biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates.
Due to the still ongoing functional recovery activities for the Biolab facility the TripleLux experiments’ execution has been deferred due to the Biolab microscope failure. The microscope which is needed for the TripleLux experiments was returned to ground with STS-134 and will be returned to the ISS to resume the utilisation of a fully functional Biolab after repair. The objective of the TripleLux experiments is to further understand the cellular mechanisms underlying the aggravation of radiation responses, and the impairment of immune function under spaceflight conditions.
European Drawer Rack and associated payloads
The European Drawer Rack was activated on 6 August in order to carry out a 3D live streaming downlink test for the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (see below).
The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility which will host the Facility for Adsorption and Surface Tension (FASTER) and the Electro-Magnetic Levitator payload from 2012 onwards. FASTER is a Capillarity Pressure Tensiometer developed for the study of the links between emulsion stability and physico-chemical characteristics of droplet interfaces. The Electro-Magnetic Levitator (EML) will investigate thermophysical properties of metal alloys under weightlessness, supporting both basic and namely industrial research and development needs.
A KUBIK incubator is currently scheduled to process ESA’s ROALD-2 experiment at the end of 2011. This will expand on the initial ROALD experiment from 2008 and will determine the role of a certain lipid in the regulation of immune processes and in the cell cycle under weightless conditions. Subsequently the KUBIK incubator in the European Drawer Rack will also be used to process NASA’s NIH Ageing experiment which is currently planned for the second half of 2012.
Erasmus Recording Binocular 2
On 6 August ISS Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Ron Garan carried out 3D live streaming testing on the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (ERB-2), ESA’s new high definition 3D video camera. Following a white balance and focus test the crew members performed filming with live streaming of 3D footage and audio with real-time transmission to ESA’s Erasmus Centre in the Netherlands. The following day ERB-2 was disconnected from the European Drawer Rack and was used to record a “Life Onboard the ISS” session. Hereafter the ERB-2 was turned off and reconnected to, and mounted on, the European Drawer Rack. ERB-2 was conceived by the Erasmus Centre of ESA’s Human Spaceflight Directorate and takes advantage of high-definition optics and advanced electronics to provide a vastly improved 3D video effect for mapping the Station.
Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow-2 / FASES experiments
No activities were carried out using the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) in the two week period until 12 August while a recovery plan is in progress to resolve a telemetry problem. This follows on from extensive activities for the Geoflow-2 experiment, which has been undergoing experiment processing in FSL since 21 March. All mandatory experiment runs have now been completed for Geoflow-2 except for the high-rotation runs. Additional runs using a different optical diagnostic mode have also been carried out on top of the mandatory runs. After FSL recovery still a couple of weeks of experiment operations are envisaged. The main experiment parameters of GeoFlow-2 are the core rotation speed, electrical field, temperature gradients and liquid viscosity variation.
Geoflow-2 (which follows on from the initial Geoflow experiment with new scientific objectives and a different experiment configuration) is investigating the flow of an incompressible viscous fluid held between two concentric spheres rotating about a common axis as a representation of a planet. This is of importance for astrophysical and geophysical problems such as global scale flow in the atmosphere, the oceans, and in the liquid nucleus of planets. For Geoflow-2 the incompressible fluid is Nonanol which varies in viscosity with temperature (unlike silicon oil) to provide a different aspect of research with more of a simulation to Earth’s geophysical conditions. The Geoflow-2 science runs form part of an exhaustive scientific programme of experiment processing which will last a couple of months.
The subsequently planned Fluid Science Laboratory experiment “Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability” (FASES) has been thoroughly prepared via a full scientific verification programme of the emulsions’ composition and the optical diagnostics’ adjustment. The execution of the FASES experiment will require the upgrade of the FSL Video Management Unit which will be attempted on orbit in September or otherwise via return to Earth by the SpaceX demo flight 3 before the end of 2011 for the pending upgrade implementation, the latter option after the execution of the full GeoFlow-2 experiment. The flight of the FASES Experiment Container will be rescheduled to a later launch in 2012. This experiment will be studying emulsion properties with advanced optical diagnostics. Results of the FASES experiment hold significance for oil extraction processes, and in the chemical and food industries.
European Physiology Modules (EPM) facility and associated experiments
The European Physiology Modules facility was activated on 9 August in order to undertake another session of the PASSAGES experiment (see below) by ISS Flight Engineer Ron Garan. The data from the experiment was downlinked via the European Physiology Modules hereafter. The European Physiology Modules facility is equipped with different Science Modules to investigate the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. Experiment results from the investigations using the European Physiology Modules will contribute to an increased understanding of terrestrial problems such as the ageing process, osteoporosis, balance disorders, and muscle atrophy.
ISS Flight Engineer Ron Garan performed his final session of the PASSAGES experiment on 9 August. The experiment uses the Neurospat light shield attached to a multipurpose laptop additionally attached to the front of the European Physiology Modules facility. The PASSAGES experiment is designed to test how astronauts interpret visual information in weightlessness using virtual reality stimuli such as traversing through a virtual door. This neurological experiment can improve our knowledge of neurological processes and provide an insight into the efficiency of performing certain tasks in space, which in turn can improve training techniques for astronauts.
Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) Experiment
Garan finished his six-day lower salt level diet session of the SOLO experiment on 2 August. This followed on from the higher salt level diet session that he followed from 22-27 July. During the sessions Garan logged what he had eaten and drunk on a daily basis. For the second session body mass measurements were taken on 31 July and 2 August and blood sampling was undertaken on 1 August. Blood samples were spun in the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research Facility 2 and put into a MELFI freezer (see below) for return to ground for further analysis. Blood was also analysed on orbit using a Portable Clinical Blood Analyser. Garan also started 24 hr urine collection on 31 July, which finished the following day. Samples were again stored in MELFI. SOLO is carrying out research into salt retention in space and related human physiology effects during long-duration space flight.
The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment, which had been ongoing since July 2009 is now complete following hardware deinstallation on 17 June. This was returned on STS-135 Shuttle Atlantis which landed on 21 July. The passive detectors for DOSIS were already deinstalled earlier and returned to Earth on STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis in May 2010, after which they were sent to the research team to undergo scientific analyses. The DOSIS experiment determines the nature and distribution of the radiation field inside European Columbus laboratory using different active and passive detectors spread around the laboratory. This is the first time that 'area dosimetry' has been undertaken on Columbus to measure the spatial radiation gradients inside the module.
Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System facility in the two weeks until 12 August. The Pulmonary Function System is accommodated in NASA’s Human Research Facility 2, which was relocated from the US Destiny laboratory to the Columbus laboratory in October 2008. The Pulmonary Function System is an ESA/NASA collaboration in respiratory physiology instrumentation, which analyses exhaled gas from astronauts' lungs to provide near-instant data on the state of crew health.
European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS)
Venting activities were carried out in the European Modular Cultivation System on 30/31 July in order to raise O2 levels for runs of NASA’s Plant Signalling experiment. From 1 - 5 August the EMCS was activated for processing of the Plant Signalling experiment. On the final day of the experiment ISS Flight Engineer Mike Fossum removed the Experiment Containers on Rotors A and B and inserted the samples into one of the European-built MELFI freezers. The Plant Signalling investigation studies the effects of various gravity levels on the growth responses of plant seedlings and will help to gather insights into the cultivation of plants during space flight on long-term missions. It also helps in understanding the mechanisms of plant development and improving crop production and agricultural yields on Earth.
The next ESA experiment to take place in the facility is the Gravi-2 experiment which is currently scheduled in the late 2011 timeframe. Gravi-2 builds on the initial Gravi experiment in determining the gravity threshold response in plant (lentil) roots.
The European Modular Cultivation System, which was flown to the ISS in July 2006, is dedicated to biological experiments such as the effects of gravity on cells, roots and physiology of plants and simple animals. It was developed by ESA and is being operated jointly with NASA under a bilateral barter agreement which was renewed after the initial 2 years time frame.
Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES)
No activities were carried out using the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) in the two weeks until 12 August. Once the facility is fully commissioned it will be used for undertaking neuromuscular and exercise research on the International Space Station. MARES is capable of assessing the strength of isolated human muscle groups around joints to provide a better understanding of the effects of weightlessness on the muscular system of ISS astronauts.
Following completion of an electrical checkout of the system (i.e. with no functional testing), MARES will be placed in its on-orbit stowage configuration. In the future this will be tentatively followed up by functional testing of MARES in two parts: the first part without a crew member using the system, the second functional testing with a crew member in the loop using the system. These two commissioning parts will include testing of hardware and software as well as testing downlink capabilities. The first part has now been put in the planning for September.
MARES consists of an adjustable chair with a system of pads and levers that fit to each astronaut and cover different movements, a main box containing the facility motor and control electronics to which the chair is connected by an articulated arm, as well as dedicated experiment software. The system is considerably more advanced than equivalent ground-based devices and a vast improvement on current muscle research facilities on the ISS.
Coloured Fungi In Space (CFS-A)
The dry spore biocontainer for the Coloured Fungi In Space experiment was returned from orbit with STS-135/ULF-7 Shutttle Atlantis which landed on 21 July. This follows the return of the three live culture biocontainers for the short-term part of the experiment with STS-133 which landed on 9 March. The Coloured Fungi In Space experiment is undertaking an examination of the survival and growth of different coloured fungi species, which can be relevant to spacecraft contamination, panspermia and planetary protection issues.
European science and research facilities outside the Columbus laboratory in open space
The SOLAR facility was placed in a safe configuration following the end of another Sun visibility window on 1 August. Sun visibility windows for SOLAR are open for the facility to acquire scientific data when the ISS is in the correct orbital profile with relation to the Sun. The SOLAR payload facility has been studying the Sun’s irradiation with unprecedented accuracy across most of its spectral range currently for around 3 ½ years on-orbit. This has so far produced excellent scientific data during a series of Sun observation cycles. Following the conclusion of the detailed technical feasibility study for on-orbit lifetime extension the science team will be able to continue gathering further science data in a period of increasing solar activity up to 2013 and possibly beyond.
Vessel Identification System (Vessel ID)
Successful data acquisition is ongoing for the Vessel Identification System (commonly known as the Automatic Identification System, AIS), using its Norwegian receiver, and telemetry is still being successfully received by the Norwegian User Support and Operation Centre (N-USOC) in Trondheim via ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Germany. The Vessel Identification System has acquired an extensive amount of data in the past months since its installation in Columbus.
The Vessel Identification System consists of two different on-board receivers (NORAIS and LuxAIS), which were scheduled to be alternated every three months or so, and the ERNO-Box, which is used as a data relay for the Vessel Identification System, whose antenna was installed on the outside of Columbus during an EVA on 21 November 2009. A new LuxAIS receiver is currently scheduled to be transported to the ISS on Soyuz 29S towards the end of 2011. The Vessel Identification System is testing the means to track global maritime traffic from space by picking up signals from standard AIS transponders carried by all international ships over 300 tonnes, cargo vessels over 500 tonnes and all types of passenger carriers. Meanwhile various service entities have been asking to get access to the VIS data which is continuously acquired on Columbus.
European science inside the US Destiny Laboratory
Materials Science Laboratory (MSL) in the First Materials Science Research Rack (MSRR)
Following delivery to the ISS on STS-135/ULF-7 Shuttle Atlantis, the first six second batch Sample Cartridge Assemblies (two each for CETSOL, MICAST and SETA experiments) are currently awaiting processing in the Materials Science Laboratory’s Solidification and Quenching Furnace (SQF).
The final MICAST sample from the first batch (belonging to NASA) which completed processing in the Solidification and Quenching Furnace of the Materials Science Laboratory in January is now with the science team at the University of Arizona to undergo post-flight analysis. This sample followed an additional twelve CETSOL/MICAST experiment samples that had already been processed in the Low Gradient Furnace (which was replaced with the Solidification and Quenching Furnace earlier in January) with analysis undertaken by the relevant science teams on ground.
ESA’s Material Science Laboratory is the primary research facility located in NASA’s Materials Science Research Rack-1, which was launched together with a total of six sample cartridges for NASA and for ESA’s MICAST and CETSOL projects on STS-128/17A under a cooperation agreement with NASA and is installed in the US Laboratory on the ISS. Seven more sample cartridges were launched on 16 November 2009 with STS-129/ULF-3. The science team has already presented very promising preliminary scientific results stemming from analysis of this initial set of material samples. This constitutes an excellent basis for further materials research with international collaboration.
CETSOL (Columnar-to-Equiaxed Transition in Solidification Processing) and MICAST (Microstructure Formation in Casting of Technical Alloys under Diffusive and Magnetically Controlled Convective Conditions) are two complementary material science projects. The goal of MICAST is to study the formation of microstructures during casting of technical alloys. In space, buoyancy convection is eliminated and the dendritic solidification of the alloys can be quantitatively studied under purely diffusive conditions. The objective of CETSOL is then to study the transition from columnar growth to equiaxed growth that occurs when crystals start to nucleate in the melt and grow independently. The SETA (Solidification along a Eutectic path in Ternary Alloys) experiment will be looking into a specific type of eutectic growth in alloys of aluminium manganese and silicon. Results of all these experiments will help to optimise industrial casting processes.
Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) and associated experiments
The ESA-developed Microgravity Science Glovebox was activated in the two-week period until 12 August with activities undertaken by ISS Flight Engineers Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa in connection with NASA’s Shear History Extensional Rheology Experiment (SHERE). Their tasks included activating the Glovebox, testing the experiment’s Laser Micrometer and Force Transducer, and conducting experiment runs with experiment Fluid Modules. The SHERE experiment is looking into the behaviour of so-called “Boger fluids” in weightlessness.
The DSC experiment (‘Diffusion and Soret Coefficient Measurements for Improvement of Oil Recovery’) will be the next ESA experiment to be processed in the MSG. This will be the third and final Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument (SODI) experiment processed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox which is now tentatively foreseen in the first half of 2012 after the implementation of the partially re-defined liquid mixtures in conjunction with the new ELIPS project DCMIX. Further batches of DSC experiments are planned for 2012.
DSC follows on from the SODI-Colloid experiment which took place in the Microgravity Science Glovebox in September/October 2010 and is still undergoing detailed evaluation by the science team following return of the flash disks to Earth on STS-133 Shuttle Discovery, which landed on 9 March. The Colloid experiment covers the study on growth and properties of advanced photonic materials within colloidal solutions. The focus is on materials that have a special interest in photonics, with emphasis on nano-structured, periodic dielectric materials, known as photonic crystals, which possess appealing properties and make them promising candidates for new types of optical components. Colloid is the second in the series of three SODI (Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument) experiments and further experiment runs may be resumed later during 2011 and early 2012.
The Microgravity Science Glovebox was developed by ESA within the Early Utilisation barter agreement with NASA. The Glovebox provides the ability to perform a wide range of experiments in the fields of material science, biotechnology, fluid science, combustion science and crystal growth research, in a fully sealed and controlled environment.
Portable Pulmonary Function System (PPFS)
No activities were carried out using the ESA-developed Portable Pulmonary Function System in the two week reporting period until 12 August. The Portable Pulmonary Function System is an autonomous multi-user facility supporting a broad range of human physiological research experiments under weightless conditions in the areas of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic physiology.
Data acquisition for the ALTEA-Shield experiment has been continuing with all six particle detectors in its new location in the two week period until 12 August with the minimum 20-day acquisition period having been reached on 12 August (preferred duration is 30 days or more). The ALTEA-Shield experiment aims at obtaining a better understanding of the light flash phenomenon, and more generally the interaction between cosmic rays and brain function, as well as testing the effectiveness of different types of shielding material. The experiment continues to undertake a 3-dimensional survey of the radiation environment in the US laboratory which is followed soon by the corresponding measurements of different shielding materials with the ALTEA detectors on the ISS.
European science inside the Russian ISS Segment
GTS-2 (Global Transmission Service)
The Global Transmission Service was deactivated on 31 May 2009 though following negotiations with Russian representatives, the instrument has been successfully reactivated and functionally tested for continuation as a cooperative joint European-Russian experiment on the ISS. This experiment is intended to test the receiving conditions of a time and data signal for dedicated receivers on the ground. The time signal distributed by the GTS has special coding to allow the receiver to determine the local time anywhere on the Earth without user intervention. The main scientific objectives of the experiment are to verify under real space operation conditions: the performance and accuracy of a time signal transmitted to the Earth’s surface from low Earth orbit; the signal quality and data rates achieved on the ground; and measurement of disturbing effects such as Doppler shifts, multi-path reflections, shadowing and elevation impacts.
Additional European science outside the ISS in open space
The deintegrated sample trays for the Expose-R facility have been disassembled at the Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC) located at the DLR German Aerospace Centre in Cologne, Germany and all experiment samples have now been returned to the science teams. The sample trays were returned to Earth on STS-133/ULF-5 Shuttle Discovery which landed on 9 March.
The Expose-R payload was retrieved in the frame of a Russian EVA on 21 January. It was installed outside the Zvezda Service Module during the Russian- based spacewalk on 10 March 2009, and concluded science acquisition following almost 2 years of exposure to the harsh open space environment (Solar UV, cosmic radiation, vacuum). The facility had been functioning extremely well and continuously acquiring scientific data during this time.
Expose-R hosted a suite of nine new astrobiology experiments (eight from ESA, one from IBMP, Moscow), some of which could help understand how life originated on Earth. The experiments were accommodated in three special sample trays, which were loaded with a variety of biological samples including plant seeds and spores of bacteria, fungi and ferns.
The individual Expose-R experiments have been as follows:
- AMINO: Photochemical processing of amino acids and other organic compounds in Earth orbit
- ENDO: Response of endolithic organisms to space conditions
- OSMO: Exposure of osmophilic microbes to the space environment
- SPORES: Spores in artificial meteorites
- PHOTO: Measurements of vacuum and solar radiation-induced DNA damages within spores
- SUBTIL: Mutational spectra of Bacillus subtilis spores and plasmid DNA exposed to high vacuum and solar UV radiation in the space environment
- PUR: Responses of Phage T7, Phage DNA and polycrystalline uracil to the space environment
- ORGANIC: Evolution of organic matter in space
- IMBP: Exposure of resting stages of terrestrial organisms to space conditions.
Expose-R complements the first exobiology science package that was performed in Expose-E, a twin facility which had been in operation on ESA’s EuTEF facility outside of Columbus since February 2008 until EuTEF’s return to Earth with the STS-128/17A Shuttle Flight in September 2009.
In addition a new exobiology experiment complement (three European and one Russian) for the tentative Expose-R2 mission has been identified and now an implementation agreement has been found with the Russian partners and Expose-R2 is currently scheduled for launch on Progress 48P in 2012.
Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory
Human Research Facility 1
Body Mass Measurements were taken for ISS Flight Engineer Ron Garan on 31 July and 2 August using the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) in Human Research Facility 1. This was in connection with ESA’s SOLO experiment (see above). In addition the rack was activated on 8 August and the rack laptop was replaced and checked out by Furukawa. Activities were carried out with the support of ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
Human Research Facilities 2
Human Research Facility 2 was activated on 1 August for centrifuging blood samples for Ron Garan in the facility’s Refrigerated Centrifuge for the SOLO experiment. SOLO samples were placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers hereafter. Blood samples were also centrifuged and placed in MELFI on 4 August for Mike Fossum in connection with NASA’s generic Human Research Facility protocol, and on 10 and 12 August in connection with NASA’s Nutrition/Repository protocol for Ron Garan and Satoshi Furukawa respectively. Activities were supported by the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
The two NASA Human Research Facilities support different areas of physiology research.
ISS general system information and activities *
Columbus laboratory and Columbus Control Centre
In addition to the Columbus experiment facilities mentioned above, the Columbus systems have been working well. Some regular maintenance activities have been executed by the crew and the Flight Control Team on top of the regular conferences of the ISS Crew with the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
Activities in the European-built Node 3
On 5 August in order to bring the display of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) back to functionality, NASA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer Ron Garan reconfigured the display cable before powering up the exercise device. One week later Garan and fellow NASA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer Mike Fossum carried out maintenance on the T2 treadmill in Node 3. This included exchanging three Snubber Cup Liners that were exhibiting wear, centring the T2 treadmill to get the rack’s pins centred in their cups and using a laptop connected to the rack to reactivate its secondary power channel. These activities were in addition to the regular use, inspection and servicing of ARED and the T2/COLBERT treadmill in Node 3.
Regenerative ECLSS and Additional Environmental Control Racks
The two Water Recovery System racks, together with the Oxygen Generation System rack, form the Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) which is necessary in support of a six-person ISS Crew to help reduce upload mass. Other environmental control racks in Node 3 include an Atmosphere Revitalisation Rack and a Waste and Hygiene Compartment. Highlights of the two-week period until 12 August include:
Waste and Hygiene Compartment
Garan and Fossum took turns to inspect for leakage of a pump separator at the Waste and Hygiene Compartment on 1 August. Fossum followed this up on 9 August by assembling and verifying the performance of the new Urine Monitoring System. This included collecting samples from the new system (whilst running) which he stored in one of the MELFI freezers. Fossum carried out inspection tasks the following day to check for correct functionality of the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. On 11 August, due to failure of the pump separator, checks for leakage were again carried out. The Urine Monitoring System (and integration of the Urine Processor Assembly into the system) is on hold until it is certain a leak cannot occur. Garan built new spare urine containers for the Waste and Hygiene Compartment on 12 August.
Advanced Video Interface Unit
On 3 August the malfunctioning Advanced Video Interface Unit in Node 3 was replaced.
Russian ISS Spacewalk 29
Spacewalk Preparations and Dry Run
Preparations for the 3 August Russian spacewalk were carried out principally by Roscosmos cosmonauts and ISS Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev, the EVA cosmonauts. Air ducts between the Service Module Transfer Compartment and the Pirs Docking Compartment and airlock were removed on 1 August in order to clear space for a suited dry run and communications equipment was configured in Pirs. Hereafter the two cosmonauts carried out functionality and leak checks on the Russian Orlan EVA suits and related equipment. Once the cosmonauts were sealed into their respective suits additional functionality checks were carried out and about 1.5 hours of successful testing was completed to check on suited mobility inside the Pirs Docking Compartment. Once this suited dry run was over communications and air ducting was restored to its pre-test configuration.
The following day the EVA cosmonauts were assisted by Roscosmos cosmonaut and ISS Commander Andre Borisenko in preparing for the EVA: collecting EVA tools and equipment, preparing the EVA suits with drinks bags and radiation sensors etc.
Russian EVA 29
On completion of the standard pre-EVA procedures, Russian EVA 29 was carried out by Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev on 3 August. The main tasks that were achieved during the 6 hr 23min EVA, which started at 16:50 (CEST) were: deployment of a RadioSkaf-V Satellite; the installation of an external onboard laser communication terminal system on the Russian Service Module for high speed data transmission; the retrieval of an antenna used for the docking of the “Poisk” Mini-Research Module 2 (now no longer needed); the installation of the Biorisk payload platform on Pirs; and additional photographic activities. The planned relocation of the Strela1 robotic arm from the “Pirs” Docking Compartment to Poisk module will be replanned for a future spacewalk. Once the EVA was complete the Service Module Transfer Compartment was repressurised, communications, ventilation and other systems were reconfigured back to the pre-EVA conditions and the cosmonauts carried out post-EVA medical procedures. During the Russian-based EVA Borisenko and Garan were isolated in the Russian Poisk Mini Research Module 2 with access to Soyuz 26S in case of a depressurisation contingency while ISS Flight Engineers Mike Fossum (NASA) and Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA) were in the US segment of the ISS with access to Soyuz 27S docked at the Russian Rassvet Module for similar reasons.
Post EVA Procedures
Over the two days following the spacewalk additional activities took place to return systems back to pre-EVA configuration. This included: stowing the Orlan EVA suits and associated equipment; relocating emergency medical equipment, an air repressurisation bottle, and EVA tools to their original locations; and reintegrating Progress 43P (closed out during the EVA) back into the ISS systems (leak checks, hatch opening, deactivating the spacecraft, installing ventilation, and dismantling the Progress 43P docking mechanism). Similar reintegration of Progress 42P took place on 8 August.
Minus-Eighty degree Laboratory Freezer for the ISS (MELFI)
There are three European-built MELFI freezers on the ISS: MELFI-1 and MELFI-2 in the Japanese laboratory and MELFI-3 in the US laboratory. During the reporting period samples were placed in MELFI for ESA’s SOLO experiment (blood, urine) for Ron Garan, for NASA’s generic Human Research Facility protocol (blood, urine) for Fossum, Garan and Furukawa, for NASA’s Nutrition with repository protocol (blood, urine) for Garan, for NASA’s Plant Signaling experiment (seedling samples) and liquid samples from the new Urine Monitoring System. In addition Fossum carried out an inventory of the dewars of MELFI-2 and MELFI-3, and Furukawa carried out a configuration inventory of MELFI-1.
External Robotics Operations
On 2 August a Cargo Transport Container (containing 5 spare Remote Power Controller Modules) was installed on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (otherwise known as Dextre) outside the ISS by ground commanding. This is in preparation for the upcoming replacement of the Remote Power Controller Module on the P1 truss section on 15 August.
Japanese Robotics Activities
A full checkout of the Small Fine Arm of the Japanese Remote Manipulator System on the external surface of the Japanese laboratory was carried out from 1 - 5 August by Ron Garan and Satoshi Furukawa using a robotics laptop. This included various different positional manoeuvres involving the Remote Manipulator System’s Main Arm, grappling of, and by, the Small Fine Arm and activation of the Small Fine Arm heater. On 11 August the Small Fine Arm was ungrappled from its stowage site and the Main Arm manoeuvred back to its stowed position.
Solar Particle Event
The ISS experience higher dose rates on 4 and 5 August due to a solar particle event. The levels of protons were higher than alert thresholds but did not require crew intervention.
Soyuz TMA-21/26S and Expedition Crew Return
On 8 August, members of the ISS Crew (Borisenko, Samokutyaev and Garan) donned their Sokol spacesuits and carried out a fit-check of the Kazbek shock absorbing seats in the Descent Module of the Soyuz TMA-21/26S crew return vehicle in preparation for their return on 8 September.
Japanese Inter-Orbit Communication System
Troubleshooting of the Inter-Orbit Communication System in the Japanese laboratory was undertaken by Ron Garan on 10 and 12 August. This was to determine what caused an electric short circuit which occurred on 31 July in the unit that feeds power to the Inter-Orbit Communication System Rack.
Debris from a Chinese Feng-yun satellite was being monitored on 10 August due to its proximity to the ISS. However by the following day no evasive action was deemed necessary. Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 12 August include: transfer of urine into a storage tank of Progress 43P; installation of a new Heart Rate Monitor USB adapter on a Station Support Computer laptop; installation of a grounding strap on the Active Rack Isolation System in EXPRESS Rack 8 in the US laboratory; major in-flight maintenance on the cabling of the Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Module; installation of glow-in-the-dark decals in the Japanese modules for emergency egress purposes; replacement of the two ventilation fans in the Russian Zarya module; installation of a sound muffler on the Multipurpose Small Payload Rack in the Japanese laboratory; and removing the contents of and drying out the Microgravity Experiment Research Locker/Incubator (MERLIN) in EXPRESS Rack 6.
(*)These activities are highlights of the past two weeks and do not include the majority of standard periodic operational/maintenance activities on the ISS or additional research activities not mentioned previously. Information compiled with the assistance of NASA sources.
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer
Weekly reports compiled by ESA's ISS Utilisation Department.
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