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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 101 Increment 28

26/08/2011 277 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #101 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 26 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 19-21 and 24 August in order to support downlinking activities of footage from 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 before 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 19 August ISS Flight Engineer Mike Fossum activated and checked out the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (ERB-2) and files were transferred to the European Drawer Rack for downlinking. 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. On 20 August ISS Flight Engineers Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa used ERB-2 to record a session of NASA’s SHERE experiment (see the Microgravity Science Glovebox below). Files were again transferred to the European Drawer Rack for downlinking. Downlinking activities from ERB-2 to the European Drawer Rack continued on 21 August. On 25 August ISS Flight Engineer Ron Garan used the ERB-2 for filming a public affairs event in the Japanese laboratory. 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
No activities were carried out using the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) in the two week period until 26 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 experiment parameter runs using a different optical diagnostic mode have also been carried out on top of the mandatory runs. After FSL recovery a couple of weeks of experiment operations are still envisaged. The main experiment parameters of GeoFlow-2 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 require the upgrade of the FSL Video Management Unit which will be attempted on orbit in September or otherwise following return to Earth by the SpaceX demo flight 3 before the end of 2011. The latter option would occur 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
No activities were carried out using the European Physiology Modules facility in the two week period up until 26 August. 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.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System facility in the two weeks until 26 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)
No activities were carried out using the European Modular Cultivation System in the two week period until 26 August after the successful processing of NASA’s Plant Signalling experiment. 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 26 August. The NASA part of the commissioning is now firmly planned for early September. 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 rack and activation of MARES (i.e. with no detailed 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.

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 24 August. Hereafter the facility was occasionally transferred between observation mode and idle mode depending on the orbital profile of the ISS. 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 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)
The Materials Science Laboratory’s Solidification and Quenching Furnace (SQF) was set up by Mike Fossum on 16 August for running the first samples for the ‘Batch 2’ experiments which incorporates the second set of samples for the CETSOL and MICAST experiments and the first set of samples for the SETA experiment. These were delivered to the ISS on STS-135/ULF-7 Shuttle Atlantis in July. Fossum installed a sample cartridge assembly (for CETSOL) into the Solidification and Quenching Furnace on 16 August before a chamber leak test was undertaken. This first Batch 2 sample was processed on 25, 26 August. After going through different temperature adjustments the solidification process started 20 minutes before quenching occurred.

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. 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.

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 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 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 26 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 and conducting experiment runs with experiment Fluid Modules. For the experiment runs that Mike carried out on 20 August, he also filmed the experiment activities with the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2, an ESA-developed 3D camera (see above). On 24 August Fosssum disassembled the SHERE hardware from the Glovebox and stowed it. The SHERE experiment is looking into the behaviour of so-called “Boger fluids” in weightlessness.

SODI-Colloid 2 will be the next ESA experiment to begin processing in the MSG in October. 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. 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 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 experiments.

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 material science, biotechnology, fluid science, combustion science and crystal growth research, in a fully sealed and controlled environment.

Portable Pulmonary Function System (PPFS)
On 25 August ISS Flight Engineer Ron Garan performed his fourth session of ESA’s Thermolab experiment in conjunction with the NASA’s Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) experiment. Mike Fossum undertook his third session of the joint experiments the following day. 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) is aimed at measuring oxygen uptake and cardiac output in particular, during various degrees of exercise. Data from the session was downlinked afterwards

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.

ALTEA-Shield Experiment
Data acquisition for the ALTEA-Shield experiment has been continuing in its new location in the two week period until 26 August with the minimum 20-day acquisition period having been reached on 12 August (preferred duration is 30 days or more). On 13 August two of the six particle detectors went offline. These two detectors were pointing in the same direction which does not meet science requirements. The offline detectors were brought back online on 18 August and science acquisition continued with all six particle detectors until the end of the reporting period. 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.

Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory

Human Research Facility 1
The new Human Research Facility Ultrasound equipment and Video Power Converter were configured and mated by ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa on 22 August. Hereafter the Ultrasound subrack was installed in Human Research Facility 1. The following day Furukawa undertook his first session of NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment using the ultrasound equipment (assisted by Mike Fossum) to take scans pre-, during and post-exercise. The 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. The aim of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment is to determine the degree, development and clinical significance of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms. Data from the experiment session has now been downlinked. Activities were carried out with the support of ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Human Research Facilities 2
No activities were carried out using Human Research facility 2 in the two weeks until 26 August.

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. Main points of interest are as follows:


  • Tissue Equivalent Proportional Counter
    On 15 August the Tissue Equivalent Proportional Counter, one of the principal radiation measurement devices on the ISS, was relocated from Node 2 to the Columbus laboratory.


  • Columbus Sampling
    On 17 August visual bacterial and fungal analysis of surface and air samples collected in Columbus on 12 August was carried out by ISS Flight Engineer and JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa. Further air sampling was undertaken in Columbus on 24 August by ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Ron Garan.


  • New Laptop
    A new A31p laptop was installed in Columbus by ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Mike Fossum on 19 August including loading relevant software.

Activities in the European-built Node 3


  • Exercise Equipment
    Following maintenance activities on the T2 treadmill in Node 3 during the previous two-week reporting period the treadmill is again cleared for normal use. On 23 August Mike Fossum replaced its two bungees that keep the astronauts held down to the treadmill to apply force to relevant muscle groups. 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 26 August include:

    • Waste and Hygiene Compartment:
      Fossum continued testing of the new Urine Monitoring System in the two week period. Testing was aborted due to Waste and Hygiene Compartment circuit breaker trips that were occurring. The Urine Monitoring System was hereafter put in a safe configuration and the source of the problem is being looked into on ground. Garan and Furukawa also replaced the Waste and Hygiene Compartment’s suspect pump separator and reconfigured a valve so that the Waste and Hygiene Compartment is working normally and flowing into the Urine Processor Assembly. On 26 August the pre-treat tank of the Waste and Hygiene Compartment was replaced by Furukawa and Fossum.


    • Total Organic Carbon Analyzer:
      The Gas Liquid Separator of the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA), was replaced on 18 August by Mike Fossum. The TOCA is used for testing water samples from the Water Recovery System racks in Node 3. The next day relevant software was updated and periodic sample analysis was undertaken.


    • Major Constituents Analyzer:
      Garan reinstalled the Data and Control Assembly for the currently non-operational Major Constituents Analyzer in Node 3 on 17 August and supported its activation. The Major Constituents Analyzer is a device for monitoring cabin atmosphere. Additional testing and calibration activities were carried out over the next few days.


  • Japanese Super Sensitive High-Definition Television camera
    A three-day recording session with the Japanese Super Sensitive High-Definition Television camera from within the European-built Cupola Observation Module attached to Node 3 finished on 14 August. The session carried out continuous recording of occurrences of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Downlinking of stored data was carried out on 22 and 26 August

Progress Logistics Spacecraft Activities


  • Progress 42P
    In the two weeks until 26 August cargo in the Progress 42P logistics spacecraft docked to the Russian Pirs Docking Compartment has been transferred to the ISS.


  • Progress 43P

    • Cargo Transfers
      In preparation for undocking the Progress 43P logistics spacecraft was loaded with trash and excess equipment no longer needed on the Station in the two weeks until 26 August.


    • Undocking Preparations
      On 18 August the fuel and oxidizer lines of Progress 43P were purged to prevent any further propellant transfer to the ISS. Over the next few days Sergei Volkov continued preparing the Progress 43P spacecraft for departure. The Progress docking mechanism was again installed; temperature sensor equipment and light fixtures were removed from Progress for reuse; Progress electronics were activated; ventilation ducting was removed; quick disconnect clamps which stabilize the connection between Progress 43P and the aft docking port of the Russian Service Module were removed; and the Progress/Service Module hatches were closed, followed by the standard one-hour leak check of the interhatch area and the interface between the fuel/oxidizer transfer line.


    • Undocking
      On 23 August Progress M-11M/43P successfully undocked from the aft port of the Russian Service Module at 11:34 (CEST). It will remain in orbit for a further nine days until 1 September to conduct an experiment related to defining the ionosphere environment around the spacecraft. Hereafter it will undertake its deorbit burn to place it into a planned destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.


  • Progress 44P
    • Launch Failure
      The unmanned Russian Progress M-12M spacecraft on logistics flight 44P to the ISS was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Soyuz-U rocket on 24 August at 15:00 CEST (19:00 local time). However, at about 5 minutes 25 sec after launch the third stage propulsion system shut down, just after its ignition. As such the vehicle did not reach orbit and the Progress 44P and connected Soyuz third stage fell back to Earth in the Altai region of Siberia. The spacecraft was carrying about 2.6 tonnes of supplies for the ISS. In the week prior to the launch the ISS crew had been preparing for the arrival of Progress 44P by carrying out testing and undertaking refresher training on the Russian TORU manual docking system. The TORU system acts as a manually controlled backup to the automatic Kurs docking system.

Soyuz TMA-21/26S and Expedition Crew Return Preparations


  • Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
    In the two weeks until 26 August ISS Commander Andrey Borisenko and ISS Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev (both representing Roscosmos) carried out orthostatic hemodynamic endurance test sessions using the TVIS and T2 treadmills whilst wearing Russian ‘Chibis’ lower body negative pressure suits. The Chibis suit, which provides stress that simulates gravity to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system, helps to evaluate how the Soyuz crewmember would cope with exposure to gravity on return to Earth.


  • Soyuz-TMA seat fit-check
    On 24 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.

Soyuz 27S Emergency Descent Drill
An emergency Soyuz descent drill was carried out by ISS Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov (Roscosmos), Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA) and Mike Fossum (NASA) on 17 August. The descent drill, which took place in the Descent Module of the Soyuz 27S spacecraft was for the review of Soyuz descent procedures including emergency procedures and manual undocking. The training sessions used a descent simulator application on a Russian laptop together with a descent hand controller.

Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) preparations
Testing of ISS onboard systems has started in preparation for launch of ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) called ‘Edoardo Amaldi’ to the ISS early in 2012. Testing of the Relative Global Positioning System (part of the Russian ASN-M Satellite Navigation System) for the ATV was carried out on 18 August. Over the next few days ISS Commander Andrey Borisenko carried out testing of the ASN-M Satellite Navigation System, running a test programme from a laptop linked to the three active ASN navigation electronics modules. The tests were carried out in different ISS solar array configurations to confirm that the there would be no ATV rendezvous and docking/communications issues during certain ISS orbital profiles. Borisenko downlinked associated data on 22 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 Portable Clinical Blood Analyzer pouches for ESA’s Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment were removed from MELFI-3 and trashed. Hereafter Fossum dried and cleaned all four of its dewars (drawers). Samples were also placed in MELFI-1 for JAXA’s Hair experiment (hair samples) for Ron Garan.

Onboard Diagnostic Kit
ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa carried out three days of medical diagnostic measurements until 19 August including cardio/heart, brainwave, and oxygen data using the onboard Diagnostic Kit. These tests are evaluating the equipment to be used as a medical diagnostic system on the ISS in the future. Furukawa continued the testing/evaluation by connecting to a medical doctor at JAXA’s Space Station Integration and Promotion Center in Tsukuba, Japan on 24 August in order to perform a simulation of a remote medical check out of ISS crew

US Airlock Activities
Following the final Shuttle mission spacewalk on 12 July and Russian spacewalk 29 on 3 August, ISS Flight Engineers Ron Garan and Mike Fossum carried out post-EVA activities in the US Airlock in the two weeks until 26 August. This included stowing US EVA tools and equipment and scrubbing the cooling loops of two Extravehicular Mobility Units (the US EVA spacesuits) for particulate matter and biomass.

NASA’s Robonaut device was assembled and installed along with its support equipment by Furukawa and Fossum on 22 August in the US laboratory. After joint and thermal data was recorded on ground, Furukawa and Fossum disassembled the Robonaut and its hardware. 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.

US Laboratory Atmosphere Revitalization System
Mike Fossum carried out maintenance activities on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly in the US laboratory’s Atmosphere Revitalization System on 25 August in order to bypass a degraded temperature sensor. Fossum used pin/socket jumpers to provide connectivity to two working temperature sensors and thus bypassing the degraded sensor. A subsequent checkout indicated invalid temperatures for two sensors, which is being assessed.

Pressurised Mating Adapter 2
Pressurised Mating Adapter 2, the former docking location of the Space Shuttle has started its new life as a stowage compartment for the ISS. On 26 August after collecting equipment the previous day the Node 2 forward hatch into the mating adapter was opened and Furukawa and Garan had 4.5 hours allocated to carry out stowage activities. Hereafter the Node 2 hatch into the mating adapter was closed.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 26 August include: installing fresh desiccant packs before returning food into the Microgravity Experiment Research Locker/Incubator (MERLIN) in EXPRESS Rack 6; replacing the collector unit on the Service Module toilet; installing an Electro-Magnetic Interference filter on the Russian Elektron oxygen generator’s current stabiliser; deploying two new bar code readers; reconfiguring the US toolbox used for work inside the ISS; checking out the power supply of the Multipurpose Small Payload Rack in the Japanese laboratory; repairing a leaking quick disconnect for a cooling line on the D1 rack in the US laboratory; and activating and recording with a JAXA 3D camera to support troubleshooting of the device.

(*)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.

Martin Zell
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department

Rosita Suenson
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer

Weekly reports compiled by ESA's ISS Utilisation Department.

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