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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 107 Increment 29

18/11/2011 285 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #107 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. The ISS has been temporarily restored 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. Following a few days of handover the three Expedition 28/29 crew members will return to Earth. However on 21 December the Expedition 30/31 crew with ESA astronaut A. Kuipers will also be launched which will finally 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 18 November. 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 Autumn 2012 to resume the utilisation of a fully functional Biolab facility after repair. The objective of the TripleLux A+B 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
No activities were carried out using the European Drawer Rack facility in the two week period up until 18 November. The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility which will host the Facility for Adsorption and Surface Tension (FASTER) in 2012 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.

Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow-2 / FASES experiments
After acquisition of real-time images for engineering investigations the Geoflow-2 science runs were resumed in the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) with a non-rotation run on 7 November. Unexpected temperature fluctuations were experienced and the Canadian-developed Microgravity Vibration Isolation System locked up. The following day image files were downlinked for assessment. The lock up of the Microgravity Vibration Isolation System was discovered to be due to a full hard disk which was cleared on 14 November to provide sufficient memory capacity for the Geoflow-2 science runs. For the first temperature fluctuations, there are indications that a quite high current consumption by the Geoflow pump unit is the cause. Following engineering assessment it has been decided to restart the experiment runs in the next reporting period with the so-called hot working environment part of the runs. Additional engineering assessment is on-going.

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 18 November. 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 18 November. 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 weeks until 18 November. 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 18 November. 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 10 November. This session of both joint experiments was carried out by ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa (assisted by ISS Commander 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

Due to the current orbital profile of the ISS, no science acquisition has taken place since the latest Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility closed on 31 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 SolACES instrument from SOLAR was being heated up during the reporting period as a work around to protect the instrument’s optics from degradation.

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 MSL 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. As part of on-going procedures a ground-commanded furnace characterisation test was successfully carried out on 15 November. Analysis of the data gathered is on-going to assess the proper functionality of the Solidification and Quenching Furnace in which some graphite foil had come detached from an element of the Sample Cartridge Assembly of the SETA experiment sample. This sample was being processed inside the Materials Science Laboratory on 30 September at the time of the computer crash which cut cooling to the Materials Science Laboratory.

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 already been processed from the Batch 2a samples. Very promising preliminary scientific results from the first batch of CETSOL/MICAST samples that were processed in Materials Science Laboratory in 2009/2010 have already been presented by the science teams. 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 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 the successful completion of the SODI Colloid-2 experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the two weeks until 4 November, experiment activities for the SODI-DSC experiment were on-going in the two weeks until 18 November. On 7 November ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa installed the SODI-DSC hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. An issue connecting the Image Processing Unit to one of the two camera units occurred, though this issue (caused by an incorrect network address) was resolved on 9 November. Hereafter the checkout runs were carried out to allow for fine-tuning of the laser and camera parameters to optimize the science return. The first science run was started on 9 November though the Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument (SODI) experienced a lock up during processing. Following ground assessment troubleshooting activities were carried out on 15, 16 November which included recovering corrupted files on the flash disk of the Image Processing Unit, which re-established image acquisition commanding. Further troubleshooting steps were also undertaken to improve the image quality which was successful and an investigation is also on-going to improve and update parameters for the phase-stepping algorithm. Following additional adjustment of image quality parameters on 17 November science runs were resumed. Adjustment of additional image quality parameters was carried out on 18 November.

The SODI-DSC experiment is the third and final Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument (SODI) experiment being processed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox 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 11 November ISS Commander Mike Fossum carried out standard maintenance calibration of the ESA-developed Portable Pulmonary Function System. After the system was powered up by Fossum new calibration experiment software was uploaded from the ground. Hereafter Fosssum performed a volume calibration before ground controllers took over again to complete the remaining calibration activities. 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-Survey experiment has been continuing in its current location in the two week period until 18 November with the minimum 20-day acquisition period having been reached on 12 August (preferred duration is 30 days or more). Data acquisition is continuing using five of the six silicon detectors with one currently offline. This is of minor significance as it is one of two detectors collecting data in a specific direction. There have been 96 cumulative days of science acquisition at this current location until 18 November. 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 18 November activities were carried out using NASA’s Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa carried out his final ambulatory monitoring session (from 7 – 9 November) of NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment. This included 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. On 10 November Human Research Facility 1 was used in connection with ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment (see above) and NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment with Furukawa as test subject. This consisted of ultrasound scans for both experiments using the facility as well as ECG and heart rate measurements being taken. The aim of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment is to determine the degree, development and clinical significance of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms.

On 14 November Fossum used facility hardware to perform a leg muscle ultrasound scan on himself for NASA’s SPRINT protocol.

Human Research Facility 2
No activities were carried out using Human Research facility 2 in the two weeks until 18 November. 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:


  • High-Rate Multiplexer
    The High-Rate Multiplexer computer which was switched over on 28 October due to possible failure of a Main Bus Switching Unit was switched back to the primary setting on 9 November. The possible failure is no longer an issue following the installation of jumper cables to power the US laboratory’s Secondary Power Distribution Assembly (see ISS Power Issues below).


  • Decrewing Preparations
    Decrewing activities continued on the ISS in the unlikely event that the ISS needs to remained unmanned for a period of time. This would only have happened in the unlikely event that the Soyuz 28S spacecraft could not have launched to the ISS in time or experienced problems after launch and could not dock to the ISS. Activities in Columbus included cycling Water Flow Selection Valves and changing the Condensing Heat Exchanger to high condensing mode, in preparation for a heat exchanger dryout.

Activities in the European-built Node 3


  • Exercise Equipment
    ISS Commander and NASA astronaut Mike Fossum carried out his 5th session of the new Treadmill Kinematics protocol on the T2 COLBERT treadmill in the European-built Node 3 on 8 November. This protocol is making an assessment of current exercise protocols. 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 18 November include:

    • Water Processor Assembly
      On 8 November Mike Fossum took a sample from the Waste Water Tank of the Water Processor Assembly for return to earth for analysis. He also took a sample from the Water Recovery and Management condensate line.


    • Oxygen Generation System:
      A water sample was taken from the recirculation loop of the Oxygen Generation System by Mike Fossum on 9 November to return on Soyuz 27S for analysis. On 18 November Fossum carried out maintenance activities on the system, replacing a hydrogen sensor, and cleaning the muffler and manifold of the system’s Avionics Air Assembly.

ISS Expedition 29/Soyuz 27S Return Preparations


  • Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
    Between 5 - 17 November Roscosmos cosmonaut and ISS Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov carried out four orthostatic hemodynamic endurance test sessions wearing the Russian ‘Chibis’ lower body negative pressure suit, the first session whilst using the T2 treadmill in Node 3, the other sessions whilst using the TVIS treadmill. The Chibis suit, which provides stress that simulates gravity to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system, helps to evaluate how the Russian crewmembers would cope with, and prepare them for, exposure to gravity on return to Earth.


  • Soyuz 27S Descent Drills
    ISS Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa carried out a Soyuz Descent training exercise on 7 November in Soyuz 27S (and also on 11 November together with ISS Commander Mike Fossum). The exercises involved the use of a computer simulation and review of Soyuz descent procedures, emergency descents, off-nominal situations and crew responsibilities by the three ISS Crew members.


  • Soyuz Prepacking/Loading
    In the two week reporting period cargo and equipment for return to earth on Soyuz 27S was collected pre-packed and loaded into the Descent Module of the Soyuz spacecraft. This included equipment from one of the US EVA suits and Service Module air and water samples.


  • Soyuz TMA-02M/27S Motion Control Test
    Volkov and Furukawa supported a ground-commanded checkout of the Soyuz TMA-02M Motion Control System on 14 November including testing the pilot’s translational hand controller and the braking thrusters.


  • Suit/Soyuz Couch Fit Checks
    In the two week reporting period the three returning crew members (Volkov, Furukawa and Fossum) carried out fit checks of their Soyuz Kazbek couches whilst wearing their Russian Sokol spacesuits. They also carried out fit checks of their protective Kentavr anti-g suits. These suits are worn under their Sokol suits during return and landing to help the long-duration crewmembers with the return into Earth’s gravity.


  • Emergency Responsibilities Review
    The six ISS crew members had a joint review of emergency roles and responsibilities on 17 November including escape routes in situations such as ammonia leaks, toxic spills, fire and depressurization.

Soyuz TMA-22/28S, Expedition 29/30 Crew Launch and Docking


  • Soyuz TMA-22 Launch
    Three members of the ISS Expedition crew were successfully launched together in the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft on flight 28S to the ISS on 14 November at 05:14 CET (10:14 local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz crew consisted of Soyuz Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, both of whom will be Flight Engineers for ISS Expeditions 29 and 30, and NASA astronaut Dan Burbank who will become a Flight Engineer for ISS Expedition 29 and Commander of ISS Expedition 30. Following orbital insertion, Soyuz TMA antennas and solar arrays were deployed and various orbital burns were carried out over the following two days to bring the Soyuz in the vicinity of the ISS to begin docking procedures.


  • Soyuz TMA-22 Pre-docking activities
    On 7 November Russian ground controllers conducted a test of the automatic Kurs docking system on the ISS using a test programme in order to check out a switch of Kurs antenna feeder cables. Prior to Soyuz TMA-22 docking the ISS crew configured relevant communications and video equipment. On 15 November Volkov prepared the Russian ISS segment for the arrival of time-critical bioengineering payloads.


  • Soyuz TMA-22 Docking
    The Soyuz TMA-22/28S spacecraft docked successfully with the Russian “Poisk” Mini Research Module 2 on 16 November at 06:24 (CET) bringing the crew of the ISS up to a total of six for a few days.


  • Soyuz TMA-22 post-docking activities
    ISS attitude control was handed back from Russian to US systems after docking. Video of the docking and structural dynamics measurements were downlinked by the crew and the standard leak check between the Soyuz and the ISS was carried out. On completion the hatches were opened and the usual crew greeting took place. Quick disconnect clamps were installed at the interface between the Soyuz and the ISS to further stabilise the connection. Hereafter a performance test of the Poisk Passive Docking Assembly was carried out by flight controllers at the Mission Control Centre in Moscow and Anton Shkaplerov on the ISS, which confirmed that previous repair work on the Poisk hatch had been successful. The standard crew safety briefing followed. Ivanishin set up the three Sokol spacesuits and their gloves for drying out, and the Soyuz spacecraft was deactivated. The Russian crew members then started transfer of high priority cargo to the ISS. On 17 November Shkaplerov installed local temperature sensor equipment in the newly arrived Soyuz spacecraft and removed television cameras from Soyuz TMA-22 (for reuse).

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 saliva samples for ISS Commander Mike Fossum and ISS Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Dan Burbank were placed in the MELFI units for NASA’s Integrated Immune protocol. In addition Fossum replaced quarter box modules in MELFI-3 with a half box module on 7 November, and relocated the -32 deg C Ice Bricks from the quarter box modules into the half box module. The MELFI-3 unit was also rotated forward on 7 November during the installation of jumper cables for the Secondary Power Distribution Assembly in the US laboratory.

Orbital Debris
Orbital debris from the Chinese Fengyun 1C satellite was being monitored for the possibility of it coming in close proximity to the ISS (time of closest approach on 6 November). However it was subsequently determined that the debris posed no threat of a collision with the ISS so no further action was required.

ISS Power Issues
Communications with Main Bus Switching Unit 1 have been lost, but the unit continues to provide power to the downstream loads. Jumper cables to power the US laboratory’s Secondary Power Distribution Assembly were installed to switch certain loads onto Main Bus Switching Unit 4 in case of Main Bus Switching Unit 1 failure.

In addition a Remote Power Controller which feeds power to an American-to-Russian-Converter Unit in the Russian Zarya Module tripped due to an over-current with preliminary analysis indicating a failure of the converter unit. Another converter unit has been activated to supply the power to the loads affected in the Zarya Module.

A plan has been established to protect against a power overload in the event Main Bus Switching Unit 1 failure. With the above configuration of the Secondary Power Distribution Assembly and American-to-Russian-Converter Unit, a failure of Main Bus Switching Unit 1 would cause an increased power load for one of the ISS power channels. To avoid this situation the Node 3 Direct Current (DC) to Direct Current Converter Unit for that power channel has been switched off. This will prevent potential loss of critical avionics on that power channel in case of a failure.

Progress M-13M/45P Propellant Transfers
Mission Control Centre in Moscow carried out transfer of propellants from Progress 45P to Service Module tanks (via the Pirs Docking Compartment) from 7-10 November.

Combustion Integrated Rack
Working on NASA’s Combustion Integrated Rack, the calibration unit of the Fuel/Oxidizer Management Assembly and a fibre optics cable were replaced on 9 November by Mike Fossum in connection with yearly calibration. The Combustion Integrated Rack was partially powered the following day to perform calibration of new Fuel/Oxidizer Management Assembly.

ISS Reboost
On 18 November a reboost of the ISS was undertaken using the Service Module Propulsion System. The manoeuvre lasted 3 min 37 sec, and increased the ISS altitude by 6.22 km placing it at a mean altitude of 392.6 km. The reboost places the ISS in an optimal flight profile for landing of Soyuz 27S.

ISS Orbital Profile
The orbital profile of the ISS in the reporting period led to external hardware on the starboard side of the ISS experiencing extremely high temperatures and hardware on the port side experiencing cold extremes. Protective measures were undertaken in this time.

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
Thermal Radiator Rotary joint adjustments were needed in the two week period until 18 November to keep the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer temperature above 10 deg C. The adjustments made eventually brought the temperature of the instrument up above 11 deg C.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 18 November include: replacing isolators on the CEVIS cycle ergometer; successful pumping of water from a Service Module tank following unsuccessful attempts due to a stuck valve; deploying new Progress 45P delivered Radiation Area Monitors and collecting in older Radiation Area Monitors for return and post-flight analysis; checking out Russian Laser Communication Terminal lines and connections by measuring electrical resistances and voltages following extensive troubleshooting on the Russian Laser Communication System; setting up a second T61p router laptop for the Joint Station LAN; connecting two ISS laptops to the Joint Station LAN and undertaking ground testing to determine remote command capabilities; and finalizing decrewing activities in the unlikely event that the ISS needs to remained unmanned for a period of time. This would only have happened in the unlikely event that Soyuz 28S spacecraft could not have launched to the ISS in time or experienced problems after launch and could not dock to the ISS.

(*)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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