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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 108 Increment 29/30

10/01/2012 278 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #108 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 currently at a reduced level at the end of the current two-week reporting period. The ISS was 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 though after a few days of handover the three Expedition 28/29 crew members returned to Earth, landing in Kazakhstan on 22 November. However on 21 December the Expedition 30/31 crew with ESA astronaut A. Kujpers 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 2 December. 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 2 December. 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 (Anandamide) in the regulation of immune processes in human lymphocytes and in the cell cycle under weightless conditions. This could help in the development of additional countermeasures to the effects of weightlessness on the human body in the future. 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
Unexpected temperature fluctuations experienced during recent science runs of the Geoflow-2 experiment are suspected to be caused by high current consumption by the Geoflow fluid loop pump unit. Following engineering assessment it was decided to restart the experiment runs with the so-called hot working environment for which the lower temperature set-point is at +30.5 deg C. These science runs started on 22 November. Three successful no rotation runs were completed by 29 November with images successfully downlinked for assessment by the science team. However during a fourth no-rotation run on 30 November there was an anomaly in the Optical Diagnostic Module of the Fluid Science Laboratory and the last two set points of 25 could not be completed and will be rescheduled. Additional science runs are on hold awaiting resolution of the issue.

These activities follow on from extensive Geoflow-2 experiment runs, which started processing in the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) in March. All mandatory experiment runs have 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 upload of the FASES Experiment Container will be rescheduled to a launch in 2013. This experiment will be studying emulsion properties with advanced optical diagnostics. Results of the FASES experiment hold significance for oil extraction processes, and in the chemical and food industries.

European Physiology Modules (EPM) facility and associated experiments
The European Physiology Modules facility was activated on 23 November in order to undertake another session of the PASSAGES experiment (see below) by ISS Commander Dan Burbank. The data from the experiment was downlinked via the European Physiology Modules hereafter. The European Physiology Modules facility is equipped with different Science Modules to investigate the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. Experiment results from the investigations using the European Physiology Modules will contribute to an increased understanding of terrestrial problems such as the ageing process, osteoporosis, balance disorders, and muscle atrophy.

PASSAGES experiment
ISS Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank performed a session of the PASSAGES experiment on 23 November. The experiment uses the Neurospat light shield attached to a multipurpose laptop additionally attached to the front of the European Physiology Modules facility. The PASSAGES experiment is designed to test how astronauts interpret visual information in weightlessness using virtual reality stimuli such as traversing through a virtual door. This neurological experiment can improve our knowledge of neurological processes and provide an insight into the efficiency of performing certain tasks in space, which in turn can improve training techniques for astronauts.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 2 December. 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.

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.

European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS)
No activities were carried out using the European Modular Cultivation System in the two weeks until 2 December. 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 2 December. 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.

From February 2012 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
Following an experiment familiarisation session on 23 November, Dan Burbank undertook a new session of ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment in conjunction with NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular Experiment on 25 November. 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

A new Sun visibility window opened on 23 November for the SOLAR facility to acquire scientific data. 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. On 27 November the SolACES instrument from SOLAR was cooled down after being in warm-up configuration as a work-around to protect the instrument’s optics from degradation during a period of several docking, undocking and reboost events. SolACES had been in warm-up configuration since 1 November. SolACES was again placed in warm-up configuration on 29 November due to a Service Module reboost taking place just after midnight the following evening. SolACES will remain in this configuration until 5 December.

The SOLAR payload facility has been studying the Sun’s irradiation with unprecedented accuracy across most of its spectral range currently for nearly four 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 (NORAIS), 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. 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
Experiment activities for the SODI-DSC experiment were on-going in the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the two weeks until 2 December. From the start of the two-week reporting period a series of iterations were performed in order to attain sufficent image quality for scientific analysis for the SODI-DSC experiment. Laser current and camera exposure times, black level parameters and gain levels for the movable modules were adjusted with images downlinked after each step. Optimal levels for the different parameters were determined and science runs were started from 25 November. The first three runs did not generate good image quality though this was resolved by reconfiguring the new image parameters file on the experiment hard disk and science runs restarted on 27 November.

By 2 December 10 additional runs had been performed. Good images were confirmed by the science team for the first four runs that were undertaken. A subset of images from further runs did show reduced quality though forward planning is underway to resolve this issue.

The SODI-DSC experiment is the third and final Selectable Optical Diagnostic Instrument (SODI) experiment being processed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox and will run 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 2 December a session of ESA’s Thermolab experiment in conjunction with NASA’s Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) experiment was performed by ISS Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank. Data was downlinked to ground after the session. 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. 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 Experiments
Data acquisition for the ALTEA-Survey experiment has been continuing in its current location in the two week period until 2 December 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 110 cumulative days of science acquisition at this current location until 2 December. 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 2 December activities were carried out using NASA’s Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. ISS Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank carried out ultrasound scans for NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment in conjunction with ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment. This consisted of ultrasound scans for both experiments using the facility as well as ECG and heart rate measurements being taken.

Burbank carried out his first ambulatory monitoring session of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment from 29 November – 1 December. 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. 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
No activities were carried out using Human Research facility 2 in the two weeks until 2 December. 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:


  • Atmospheric Analysis
    Analysis of the Columbus cabin atmosphere for levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen was undertaken on 19 and 25 November using a Carbon Dioxide Monitor, a Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products instrument and two Compound Specific Analyzer- Oxygen instruments.

Activities in the European-built Node 3


  • Exercise Equipment
    ISS Expedition 30 Commander and NASA astronaut Dan Burbank carried out his 1st session of the new Treadmill Kinematics protocol on the T2 COLBERT treadmill in the European-built Node 3 on 28 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 2 December include:

    • Water Recovery System racks
      Dan Burbank removed the new Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly (which filters pre-treated urine for processing into water) from Water Recovery System 2, drained it into a waste water container, cleaned the assembly and replaced it back into the Water Recovery System rack. Burbank also used the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) to sample water from the Water Recovery System racks on 21 and 29 November.


Soyuz TMA-02M/27S and Expedition Crew Return Preparations, Undocking and Landing


  • Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
    On 19 and 20 November ISS Expedition 29 Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov (representing Roscosmos) carried out his final orthostatic hemodynamic endurance test sessions using the TVIS treadmill and VELO ergometer whilst wearing a Russian ‘Chibis’ lower body negative pressure suit. 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-02M/27S Return Preparation
    On 20 November Volkov removed temperature sensor equipment from the Soyuz Orbital Module for reuse after Soyuz undocking, and checked out communications from Soyuz 27S to the ground. Cargo was stowed for return (in the Soyuz Descent Module) and disposal (in the Soyuz Orbital Module) in the days running up to undocking. This included a number of science payloads and samples for return. Communications were also configured for undocking.


  • Change of Command
    The official change of command ceremony took place on 20 November with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum handing over ISS command to Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank (both representing NASA). However as with all Expeditions, Expedition 30 officially begins following undocking of the departing Expedition Commander.


  • Soyuz TMA-02M/27S, Expedition 29 Undocking and Landing
    On 21 November clamps were removed between the Soyuz TMA-02M and the Rassvet Module to which it is docked. Following Soyuz activation and the crew farewell, the returning crew (Volkov, Fossum and JAXA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa) entered Soyuz 27S, the hatches between the Soyuz and the Rassvet Module were closed and relevant leak checks were carried out. Undocking of Soyuz TMA-02M occurred at midnight (CET) on 21 November followed by a 15 sec separation burn three minutes later. This was followed by a test of the new RODK Manual Attitude Control in Digital Mode. At 02:32 (CET) on 22 November the Soyuz spacecraft performed its deorbit thruster burn lasting 4 min 16 sec. This caused a deceleration of 115m/sec. 27 minutes later the spacecraft went through module separation, with atmospheric reentry occurring at 03:03 (CET). The parachute was deployed 7 minutes later with landing at 03:26 CET (08:26 local time) in central Kazakhstan. Volkov, Fossum and Furukawa had spent 167 days in space. From here the crew was flown to Kostanai in Kazakhstan by helicopter. Volkov was flown on to Star City in Moscow, while Fossum and Furukawa were flown directly to Houston. Undocking of Soyuz TMA-02M marked the end of Expedition 29 and the start of Expedition 30, which currently consists of NASA astronaut and ISS Commander Dan Burbank and Roscosmos cosmonauts and ISS Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. Prior to undocking procedures the ISS was first handed over from US to Russian attitude control and then to free drift prior to clamp removal. After undocking ISS attitude control was again handed back to US systems and communications equipment was reconfigured.


Soyuz TMA-22/28S, Expedition 29/30 Post-docking activities


  • Emergency Egress Drill
    The newly arrived Expedition crew members (Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin) were taken through the first part of an emergency egress drill by ISS Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum on 20 November to familiarise them with the locations of emergency equipment. The second part of the drill was undertaken by the new crew members on 29 November.


  • Soyuz TMA-22 Cargo Transfers
    Ivanishin spent time during the reporting period until 2 December transferring cargo from the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft to the ISS.


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. Dan Burbank reconfigured cold storage in MELFI-3, relocating 11 +4 deg C Ice Bricks from dewar 3 to dewar 4 in MELFI-3 (and adding five similar Ice Bricks to dewar 4 from storage). Hereafter Burbank inserted 16 -32 deg C Ice Bricks into dewar 3.

Russian Propellant Transfers
Ground-commanded transfer of propellants (fuel and oxidizer) from tanks in the Russian Zarya Module to tanks in the Russian Service Module was undertaken between 22 and 25 November.

ISS Reboost/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 23 November). However it was subsequently determined that the debris posed no threat of a collision with the ISS so no further action was required. On 1 December at 00:11 (CET) a reboost of the ISS was undertaken using the Service Module Propulsion System. The manoeuvre lasted 1 min 3 sec, and increased the ISS altitude by 1.82 km placing it at a mean altitude of 392.14 km. The reboost places the ISS in an optimal flight profile for launch, rendezvous and docking of Soyuz 29S. The reboost profile chosen also took into account an upcoming conjunction with orbital debris from the Russian Cosmos 2251 communications satellite which had a time of closest approach occurring on 2 December. It was subsequently determined that the debris posed no threat of a collision with the ISS.

SpaceX Dragon Demo Flight Preparations
In preparation for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft demo flight early in 2012, Dan Burbank uploaded software to its avionics unit on the ISS on 30 November. The avionics unit is used for communications with the Dragon spacecraft during rendezvous with the ISS. The avionics unit was successfully checked out afterwards. As the activity took longer than expected, software could not be loaded onto the two Dragon Crew Command Panels and so this has been deferred to a later date.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 2 December include: preparing EXPRESS Rack 8 for future experiment work with the Amine Swingbed payload, which is testing a more efficient way of removing carbon dioxide from the ISS cabin atmosphere; replacing a fluid loop pump unit in the Russian Rassvet module; troubleshooting on NASA’s ISS Agricultural Camera which determined that its Pointing System is causing circuit breaker trips; replacing an Air Purification Unit in the Service Module’s Air Revitalization Subsystem; unloading cargo delivered on the unmanned Progress 45P spacecraft; carrying out the long-term periodic chassis inspection on the TVIS treadmill; replacing the Service Module Central Post laptop with an upgraded T61p laptop with upgraded software; and JAXA ground controllers starting a two week ground-commanded check-out of the Kobairo Rack Gradient Heating Furnace in the Japanese ISS Kibo 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.

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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