ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 105 Increment 29
This is ISS status report #105 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 Operations teams.
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:
NB: ISS research activities are still at a reduced level in the current two-week reporting period awaiting the launch of the next Soyuz. This will restore the ISS to the full crew complement of six for a few days with the arrival of three ISS Expedition 29/30 crew members on 16 November as following a few days of handover the three Expedition 28/29 crew members will return to Earth. However tentatively on 21 December the Expedition 30/31 crew with ESA astronaut A. Kujpers will also be launched which will again re-establish a permanent six-member crew on the ISS.
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 21 October. 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 tentatively in fall 2012 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
In the two weeks until 21 October the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (see below) has been connected up to the European Drawer Rack.
The European Drawer Rack was also tilted forward (and thereafter back in place) to carry out maintenance on Water On/Off Valves in Columbus (see below) on 14 October.
The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility which will host in 2012 the Facility for Adsorption and Surface Tension (FASTER) and the Electro-Magnetic Levitator payload from 2013 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 (Reslem) experiment before the end of 2011 with launch of the samples on Soyuz 29S (André Kujpers’ flight). 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
ISS Commander Mike Fossum carried out a Station fly-through on 16 October whilst filming using the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (ERB-2). This went from Node 1 and through to the Russian Service Module at the back of the Station. The following day ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa connected the camera up to the European Drawer Rack to allow for data downlink. ESA’s ERB-2 is a new high definition ISS 3D video camera which had recently taken the first live 3D images in the history of human spaceflight. The 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
Science runs for the Geoflow-2 experiment in the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) are currently on hold due to ground preparations at the USOC for other ISS experiments. On 13 October the Fluid Science Laboratory was activated in order to take measurements from its Canadian-developed Microgravity Vibration Isolation System. This is being used to characterise any vibrations that occurred during checkout procedures for the Robonaut hardware (see ISS general system information and activities).
These activities follow on from extensive Geoflow-2 experiment runs, which started processing in the FSL on 21 March. All mandatory experiment runs have now been completed for Geoflow-2 except for the high-rotation runs. Additional experiment parameter runs using a different optical diagnostic mode have also been carried out on top of the mandatory runs. The main experiment parameters of the GeoFlow-2 experiment are the core rotation speed, electrical field, temperature gradients and liquid viscosity variation of the spherical experiment cell with the experiment fluid. 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 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 depend on the functionality of the recently upgraded FSL Video Management Unit which still needs to be proven during current activities on orbit. The flight of the FASES Experiment Container will be rescheduled to a 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
No activities were carried out using the European Physiology Modules facility in the two weeks until 21 October. The European Physiology Modules facility is equipped with different Science Modules to investigate the cardio- and neurophysiological 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.
Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 21 October. 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)
The laptop of EXPRESS Rack 3 in which the European Modular Cultivation System is located was swapped for a new T61p laptop on 11 October by Mike Fossum. Once the laptop battery was charged Fossum loaded the laptop with relevant software including European Modular Cultivation System payload application software. The regular water pump servicing activity for the European Modular Cultivation System was successfully performed on 13 October. The next ESA experiment to take place in the facility is the Gravi-2 experiment which builds on the initial Gravi experiment in determining the gravity threshold response in plant (lentil) roots.
The European Modular Cultivation System, which was launched 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 week period until 21 October. 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.
In the future MARES will undergo functional testing 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 will take place in the near future.
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.
Vessel Imaging Experiment
A new session of ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment was carried out in conjunction with NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular Experiment on 21 October. This session of both joint experiments was carried out by ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa (assisted by Mike Fossum). This consisted of an echography scan (see Human Research Facility 1 below) with ECG and heart rate measurements also being taken. On the ESA side support came from DAMEC and CADMOS, two of the User Support and Operations Centres for ESA, via the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany.
ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment evaluates the changes in central and peripheral blood vessel wall properties and cross sectional areas of long-duration ISS crewmembers during and after long-term exposure to weightlessness. A Lower Body Negative Pressure programme runs in parallel to Vessel Imaging. Flow velocity changes in the aorta and the middle cerebral and femoral arteries are used to quantify the cardiovascular response to fluid shifts. Vessel Imaging aims to optimise the countermeasures used routinely during long-duration space missions.
European science and research facilities outside the Columbus laboratory in open space
The latest Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to acquire scientific data opened on 20 October. 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 previous window had closed on 3 October. 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 since its installation in Columbus.
The Vessel Identification System consists of two different on-board receivers (NORAIS and LuxAIS), which were originally scheduled to be alternated every three months or so, and the so-called 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)
The science programme for the Batch 2a experiments (MICAST-2, CETSOL-2, SETA-2) is currently on hold pending the assessment of the power down of the Materials Science Research Rack and the Materials Science Laboratory that occurred on 30 September due to the crash of the primary Payload Multiplexer/Demultiplexer (MDM) computer in the US laboratory. This occurred during processing of a SETA experiment cartridge and affected power and cooling to the Materials Science Laboratory which is the primary payload in the Material Science Research Rack.
Some graphite foil had come detached from an element of the Sample Cartridge Assembly of the SETA experiment sample inside the Materials Science Laboratory. Photo and video images of the furnace insert are being assessed by the industrial team in order to determine the appropriate steps to remove the detached graphite foil from inside the furnace insert and restart experiment processing. Science teams are also assessing the impact on the SETA sample processed. The first six Batch 2 samples were delivered to the ISS on STS-135/ULF-7 Shuttle Atlantis in July (two each for the CETSOL, MICAST and SETA experiments). In addition to the one SETA sample one CETSOL and one MICAST sample have been processed from the Batch 2 samples.
The first twelve CETSOL/MICAST experiment samples that were processed in the Low Gradient Furnace (which was replaced with the Solidification and Quenching Furnace earlier in January) have already undergone analysis by the relevant science teams on ground. 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. 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 currently undergoing post-flight analysis. ESA’s Material Science Laboratory is the primary research facility located in NASA’s Materials Science Research Rack-1, which was launched on STS-128/17A in August 2009 and is installed in the US Laboratory on the ISS.
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 is 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
Following completion of DLR’s Capillary Channel Flow (CCF) experiment, experiment images completed downlink on 15 October. This experiment is performed in collaboration with NASA in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Capillary Channel Flow is a versatile experiment for studying a critical variety of inertial-capillary dominated flows important for innovations in the containment, storage, and handling of large liquid inventories (fuels, cryogens, and water) aboard spacecraft.
Following removal of the Capillary Channel Flow hardware on 17 October by ISS Commander Mike Fossum, ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa installed ESA’s SODI Colloid-2 experiment hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox and the first experiment runs (the so-called “reproducibility check runs”) were started. These were completed for all experiment cells by 19 October at which time aggregation detection runs were started, aiming at scanning for the determination of the colloids aggregation temperature. Downlinked images look good. The Microgravity Science Glovebox was deactivated for the weekend on 21 October though crystal growth detection runs will continue from Monday 24 October.
Colloid-2 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 in 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 experiments.
On completion this will be followed almost directly with processing of the SODI-DSC experiment which will be the third and final Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument (SODI) experiment processed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox starting in November and running for about 7 weeks. The DSC (‘Diffusion and Soret Coefficient Measurements for Improvement of Oil Recovery’) experiment followed the implementation of the partially re-defined liquid mixtures in conjunction with the new ELIPS project DCMIX. The experiment is supporting research to determine diffusion coefficients in different petroleum field samples and refine petroleum reservoir models to help lead to more efficient extraction of oil resources.
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 materials science, biotechnology, fluid science, combustion science and crystal growth research, in a fully sealed and controlled environment.
Portable Pulmonary Function System (PPFS)
On 12 October ISS Commander Mike Fossum carried out a session of ESA’s Thermolab experiment in conjunction with NASA’s Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) experiment. The Thermolab experiment uses the ESA-developed Portable Pulmonary Function System to investigate thermoregulatory and cardiovascular adaptations during rest and exercise in the course of long-term exposure to weightlessness. The Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) experiment is aimed at measuring oxygen uptake and cardiac output in particular, during various degrees of exercise. 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 is shared with ESA’s EKE experiment which has specific goals to develop a diagnostic tool for the assessment of endurance capacity from oxygen uptake and heart rate in response to changes in exercise intensity and the development of a physiological model to explore the transport of oxygen from the lungs to muscle cells.
Data acquisition for the ALTEA-Survey experiment has been continuing in its current location in the two week period until 21 October with the minimum 20-day acquisition period having been reached on 12 August (preferred duration is 30 days or more). Furukawa rebooted two silicon detector units (which had gone offline on 6 October) on 12 October. This meant all six detectors were back online and data was being gathered in each of the three directions. One of the six silicon detectors subsequently went offline on 17 October. This was of minor significance as it was one of two detectors collecting data in a specific direction. There have been 68 cumulative days of science acquisition at this current location until 21 October. The ALTEA experiments aim at obtaining a better understanding of the light flash phenomenon, and more generally the interaction between cosmic rays and brain function. 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.
Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory
Human Research Facility 1
During the two-week period until 21 October activities were carried out using NASA’s Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Human Research Facility 1 was used in connection with NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment with ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa as test subject. Furukawa started his third Ambulatory Monitoring session for Integrated Cardiovascular on 17 October with ISS Commander Mike Fossum assisting as Crew Medical Officer for the experiment. The session was completed on 19 October. The NASA Integrated Cardiovascular Experiment consists of an a ultrasound echo session and of an Ambulatory Monitoring session, which includes 24-hr blood pressure measurement using ESA's Cardiopres device, 48-hr ECG measurement with a holter device and 48-hr activity measurements using two Actiwatches. Furukawa downloaded all device data to the facility laptop on 19 October.
The ultrasound scans for the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment and ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment (see above) were carried out on Furukawa on 21 October along with ECG and heart rate measurements being taken, again with Fossum assisting as Crew Medical Officer. The aim of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment is to determine the degree, development and clinical significance of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms.
Human Research Facility 2
On 18 October Fossum and Furukawa assisted each other in undertaking blood draws for the Canadian Space Agency’s Vascular Blood Collection protocol. Blood samples were spun in the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research Facility 2 before being placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers. Activities were carried out with the support of ESA’s 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. Highlights of the past two weeks include:
A test on the ventilation n Columbus was carried out by the Columbus Control Centre on 10 October. During the 8-hour test session the crew minimised their presence in the European laboratory.
Water On/Off Valve Maintenance
After tilting forward the European Drawer Rack in Columbus, maintenance was carried out on three Water On/Off Valves on 14 October. ISS Flight Engineer and JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa inspected the valves. Valves 3 and 5 were clean and did not show any signs of degradation. Condensation and some contamination were observed on valve 4 which Furukawa cleaned and encapsulated. The European Drawer Rack was tilted back into place afterwards.
Columbus K3 Backup Control Room Test
A checkout of the backup Columbus K3 control room including test commanding was performed on 13 October. Commanding was sent from the Columbus Control Centre with good results.
Columbus Ku Band
Columbus data transmitted in Ku band could not be processed on ground during the Remote Power Controller Module replacement (see below) following a switch to the backup Columbus high-rate multiplexer core on 17 October. This was resolved early the following morning and data processing continued until the switch back to the main multiplexer core on 19 October.
Activities in the European-built Node 3
ISS Commander and NASA astronaut Mike Fossum and ISS Flight Engineer and JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa each carried out sessions of the new Treadmill Kinematics protocol on the T2 COLBERT treadmill in the European-built Node 3 on 18 and 20 October respectively. This protocol is making an assessment of current exercise protocols. Fossum used a USB stick to retrieve data from the T2 COLBERT treadmill on 21 October as no data had been downlinked from the exercise device since 11 October. As part of troubleshooting Mike also checked out a potential issue with the device’s wireless card which could prevent transmission of data. Several inconsistencies were found by Fossum who later downlinked video from the Treadmill Kinematics protocol from 20 October. These activities were carried out in addition to the regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) and T2/COLBERT treadmill.
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 weeks until 21 October include:
Water Recovery System, Rack 2: Urine Processor Assembly
The new Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly, which filters pre-treated urine for processing into water, was installed in the Urine Processor Assembly of Water Recovery System Rack 2 on 10 October by Mike Fossum. On 21 October after a period of nominal use, Mike Fossum removed the Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly, drained it into a waste water container, cleaned the assembly and replaced it back into Water Recovery System Rack 2. Following subsequent refill and activation the Urine Processor Assembly is functioning normally.
- Water Recovery System, Rack 2: Urine Processor Assembly
Japanese Super Sensitive High-Definition Television camera
Between 8 – 14 October recording sessions with the Japanese Super Sensitive High-Definition Television camera were carried out from within the European-built Cupola Observation Module attached to Node 3.
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 for Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa were placed in the MELFI units for the Canadian Space Agency’s Vascular Blood protocol (blood). In addition MELFI-3 was rotated down on 18 October in order to facilitate the replacement of the Remote Power Controller Module (see below), and the Brayton Motor of MELFI-1 was switched off on 19 October during the ISS reboost (see below).
Kobairo Rack: Furnace Maintenance
ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa carried out troubleshooting activities on the failed Gradient Heating Furnace of the Japanese Kobairo Rack in the Japanese Laboratory on 11 October. Furukawa recorded video after opening the rack’s Material Processing front panel and took photos of the furnace cartridge. Video and photos will be used for analysis on ground. On 20 October he continued activities, reconfiguring a power jumper, replacing the furnace’s Central Heater, connecting up two thermocouple harnesses to the Central Heater, and vacuum cleaning the End Heater. The following day he was assisted by Mike Fossum in photo documenting the thermocouple harnesses, taking distance measurements between the End and Central Heaters, and cleaning the Material Processing Unit and furnace cartridge. These activities follow two overcurrent events that occurred in April.
Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa assembled the Robonaut hardware to carry out testing on 13 October. During this second onboard test, after powering up the device they manoeuvred each arm joint to check out the motion stop function and calculate joint damping adjustments. They also checked out its high definition cameras. It was then commanded to move to a stow position from ground. The two astronauts disassembled the hardware afterwards. Robonaut is a human-like robotic technology which is being tested for its operability and duration in a space environment and will act as a spring-board in the evolution of robotic capabilities in space which could assist astronauts in such areas as spacewalk activities.
Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection System
Power was temporarily lost to NASA’s Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection System (RAIDS) located on the Japanese laboratory’s Exposed Facility on 13 October. This disabled Low Rate Telemetry services. After a repowering RAIDS however Low Rate Telemetry data could still not be seen so RAIDS was placed in a safe configuration for further assessment
Japanese Inter-Satellite Communication System
ISS Commander Mike Fossum assembled cabling for the Inter-Satellite Communication System in the Japanese laboratory on 14 October. The cabling is intended to overcome a short circuit which shut down a power distribution subsystem feeding power to the Inter-Satellite Communication System rack.
Remote Power Controller Module
A Remote Power Controller Module in the US laboratory was replaced on 17, 18 October by Mike Fossum after powering down relevant equipment. The module, which provides backup power to EXPRESS Rack 2 experienced a Remote Power Controller failure a number of weeks previously. Steps included rotating the European-built MELFI-3 freezer down to gain access for maintenance activities, replacing the unit and returning all racks etc to their previous configuration.
Progress 42P Activities
On 19 October a vehicle-to-vehicle test was carried out on the Russian TORU manual docking system on the ISS. This was carried out in preparation for undocking of Progress 42P on 29 October and launch of Progress 45P on 30 October. The TORU system allows ISS crew control of the Progress spacecraft from the Russian Service Module should the automatic KURS systems on Progress fail. Also in preparation for undocking, Progress 42P is being filled with trash and excess items from the ISS for disposal.
On 19 October ISS Commander Mike Fossum carried out maintenance on two of the US Extravehicular Mobility Units: emptying and filling their Service and Cooling lines, and scrubbing the cooling loops for particulate matter. The Extravehicular Mobility Units are the US suits worn to undertake spacewalks.
On 19 October a reboost of the ISS was undertaken using the Service Module Propulsion System. This followed transfer of propellant to the Service Module from the Russian Zarya Module in the previous week. The manoeuvre lasted 1 min 53 sec, and increased the ISS altitude by 3.24 km placing it at a mean altitude of 388 km. The reboost places the ISS in an optimal flight profile for future launch and docking of Progress 45P and Soyuz 28S and undocking and landing of Soyuz 27S.
At the end of the reporting period orbital debris from a Japanese H-IIA launcher was being monitored for the possibility of it coming in close proximity to the ISS. The time of closest approach was calculated to occur on 22 October. However it was subsequently determined that it posed no threat of a collision with the ISS so no further action was required.
Progress 44P Failure Investigations
Progress 45P has been cleared for launch following the Progress 44P failure investigation. The failure was determined to be caused by fuel contamination that changed the ratio between the fuel components causing a temperature raise in the gas chamber and the subsequent events. The contamination is due to a manufacturing error and investigations have demonstrated that it was a one off event not a random one.
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 21 October include: zero calibrating Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products units (which monitor cabin atmosphere to provide quick response during a fire); replacing a disk drive of the Device for the Study of Critical Liquids and Crystallization (DECLIC) in EXPRESS Rack 4; and checking out components of the Multi Purpose Small Payload Rack in the Japanese laboratory.
(*)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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