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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 73, Increment 24

30/07/2010 302 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #73 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 ISS Utilisation Department in cooperation with ESA’s Columbus and Payload Operations Management and Mission Science teams from the 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 and outside 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, WAICO and other near-term experiments
No activities were carried out using the Biolab facility in the two weeks until 30 July. Biolab is a facility designed to support biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates. The Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment was the very first experiment to take place in Biolab following the Columbus launch and part 2 of the experiment has been concluded recently. WAICO deals with the effect that gravity has on the spiralling motion (circumnutation) that occurs in Arabidopsis plant roots. It is suspected that this spiralling mechanism is an internal mechanism in the plant, independent of the influence of gravity. The four WAICO-2 experiment containers returned to earth on 26 May with STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis are undergoing analysis at the science team’s laboratory.

Due to the imminent functional recovery plan for the Biolab facility the TripleLux experiment sequence has been updated and TripleLux-B will be deferred from the ULF-5 flight to a later time, tentatively in 2011. Therefore TripleLux-A will be the next experiment after WAICO-2 and tentatively be launched on Shuttle Flight ULF-6, being performed in the Biolab facility during Increment 26. The objective of this experiment is to further understand the cellular mechanisms underlying the aggravation of radiation responses, and the impairment of the immune function under spaceflight conditions.

European Drawer Rack and Kubik Incubators
On 17 July the Kubik-3 and Kubik-6 incubators were deactivated after being set to 38 deg C for 24 hours to dry out humidity in the incubators. Commissioning activities have been carried out in advance of the start of the PADIAC (PAthway DIfferent Activators) experiment, the upload of which has been deferred to the subsequent Soyuz flight 24S in September. The PADIAC experiment requires both the Kubik-6 incubator inside the European Drawer Rack as well as the Kubik-3 incubator which will be located in the Columbus centre aisle and connected to the rack. The Kubik incubators are transportable incubators with centrifuge accommodations which were designed in the frame of the ISS Soyuz missions for biology experiments processing. The goal of PADIAC is to determine the different pathways used for activation of T cells, which play an important role in the immune system. The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility which had been continuously active and providing power, data and temperature control to the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility before the conclusion of 3½ months of successful experiment runs in July 2009.

On 30 July the rack was also activated and additional activities undertaken which successfully brought the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (ERB-2) into full functionality. After checking out the ERB-2 dual camera, from which no problems were found, ISS Flight Engineer Tracy-Caldwell-Dyson recorded a video sequence using the camera. This footage was transferred to the European Drawer Rack and thereafter downlinked through the Columbus Control Centre to the Erasmus User Support and Operations Centre at ESA’s ESTEC facility in the Netherlands. ERB-2 is a high definition 3D video camera 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.

In the future the European Drawer Rack will also host the Facility for Absorption and Surface Tension (FASTER) in 2011 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 will investigate properties of metal alloys under weightlessness, supporting basic and industrial research.

Fluid Science Laboratory and FASES/Geoflow-2 experiments
The Columbus Control Centre was assisted by ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker in an attempt at troubleshooting the Video Management Unit of the Fluid Science Laboratory on 28 July. An additional troubleshooting session will be planned as the insertion of a new Digital Line Tape cartridge into the Video Management Unit tape recorder by Walker has not resolved the current issue.

The Flight Acceptance Review for the Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability (FASES) experiment and the Experiment Sequence Test in the associated User Support and Operations Centre MARS in Naples have been completed, and the Experiment Container will now be rescheduled for transportation to the ISS from Progress flight 39P in September to a later flight. This experiment will be studying emulsion properties with advanced optical diagnostics. Results of the FASES experiment hold significance for oil extraction processes, chemical industry and in the food industry.

The hardware modifications for the implementation of the GeoFlow-2 experiment are concluded and the bench review for the launch on ATV-2 at the end of 2010 has been successfully performed.

European Physiology Modules and Experiments
No activities were carried out using the European Physiology Modules facility in the two weeks until 30 July. The European Physiology Modules facility is equipped with different science modules to investigate the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, with experiment results contributing to an increased understanding of terrestrial problems such as the ageing process, osteoporosis, balance disorders, and muscle wastage.

The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment is progressing well during its time on orbit, with the instrument acquiring data using the active DOSTEL detector in the European Physiology Modules, following deinstallation and return of the passive dosimeters on STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis. The passive detectors are now undergoing scientific analyses. The DOSIS experiment determines the nature and distribution of the radiation field inside European Columbus laboratory using different active and passive detectors spread around the laboratory. This is the first time that 'area dosimetry' has been undertaken on Columbus to measure the spatial radiation gradients inside the module.

Vessel Identification System (VIS)
Following the successful second part of commissioning of the Vessel Identification System (commonly known as Automatic Identification System, AIS) on 15, 16 July the system is working extremely well and continuing to acquire data. The data telemetry is received by the Norwegian User Support and Operation Centre (N-USOC) in Trondheim via ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Germany.

The system currently consists of the NORAIS receiver as well as 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. 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. More than 90,000 messages were received from ships during the first 14 hours of operation.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 30 July. The Pulmonary Function System is accommodated in NASA Human Research Facility 2, which was relocated from the US Destiny laboratory to the Columbus laboratory on 1 October 2008. The Pulmonary Function System is an ESA/NASA collaboration in the field of 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
ESA’s ongoing Genara-A experiment was successfully concluded in the European Modular Cultivation System on 23 July. The experiment was stopped by ground commanding. ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson removed the experiment containers from the European Modular Cultivation System and extracted the culture chambers containing the samples from the experiment containers. She inserted the culture chambers into the European-built MELFI-2 freezer (until their return by Shuttle on ULF-5) and placed four reference experiment containers back into the European Modular Cultivation System.

This experiment was transported to the ISS on Shuttle Flight STS-132 in May. Genara-A is studying plant (Arabidopsis) growth at molecular level in weightlessness. This will help to better understand gravitropism and to find plant systems that compensate for the negative impact on plant growth in space. ESA’s Gravi-2 experiment is planned to follow in April 2011 before a further NASA experiment, SeedGrowth.

In addition to supporting the activities for the Genara-A experiment, ESA’s Columbus Control Centre also supported activities of EXPRESS Rack 3 in which the European Modular Cultivation System is located on 29 July in order to take structural dynamics data. 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 has been renewed after the initial 2 years time frame.

Microgravity Science Glovebox, SODI and additional experiments
The Columbus Control Centre supported activities inside the ESA-built Microgravity Science Glovebox from 19 – 22 July and 29, 30 July. Five sessions of NASA’s Smoke and Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME) experiment were carried out by ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker. The experiment is determining smoke properties, or particle size distribution from spacecraft fires to support/improve requirements and capabilities for smoke detection in space.

The avionics hardware for ESA’s triple SODI (Selectable Optical Diagnostics Instrument) experiments is being analysed on ground before being returned to the ISS tentatively on Progress flight 39P in early September 2010 for continuation of the experiment series. The first SODI experiment which was performed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox was IVIDIL (Influence of Vibrations on Diffusion in Liquids) was successfully completed on 20 January. Now the Colloid experiment will follow, which 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. This will take place following completion of ground analysis activities and return of SODI hardware on orbit. The Colloid experiment cells will be also uploaded on Progress flight 39P in September.

The DSC experiment (‘Diffusion and Soret Coefficient Measurements for Improvement of Oil Recovery’) will now be the third and final SODI experiment processed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox which is now tentatively foreseen around mid 2011. The DSC cells, which originally arrived at the ISS on Progress 36P on 5 February, were returned on STS-131 Shuttle Discovery for re-filling due to SODI avionics failure and rescheduling of the experiment series.

The Microgravity Science Glovebox was developed by ESA within a 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.

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 30 July. The facility will be used for undertaking neuromuscular and exercise research on the International Space Station. MARES is capable of assessing the strength of isolated muscle groups around joints to provide a better understanding of the effects of weightlessness on the muscular system. In the August/September timeframe MARES will be placed from its launch to its in-orbit configuration to carry out an electrical check out of the system (i.e. with no functional testing). Once complete the system will be placed in its in-orbit stowage configuration. In the future this will be followed up by functional testing of MARES in two parts: the first part (during Expedition 26) without a crew member using the system, the second functional testing (during Expedition 27/28) with a crew member using the system. These two commissioning parts will include testing of hardware and software as well as testing downlink capabilities.

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 recent Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to acquire scientific data, which opened on 8 July, closed on 20 July (Sun visibility windows for SOLAR are open 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 more than two years on-orbit. The SOLAR facility 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.

European science inside the US Destiny Laboratory

Material Science Laboratory in the Material Science Research Rack
ESA’s Material Science Laboratory is the primary research facility located in NASA’s Materials Science Research Rack-1, which was launched together with a total of six sample cartridges for NASA and for ESA’s MICAST and CETSOL projects on STS-128/17A under a cooperation agreement with NASA and is now installed in the US Laboratory on the ISS. Seven more sample cartridges were launched on 16 November 2009 with STS-129/ULF-3. Twelve of the CETSOL/MICAST experiment samples have been processed to date with the processed samples currently being analysed by the relevant science teams on ground.

Together with NASA a joint Material Science Laboratory/Materials Science Research Rack operations technical interface meeting has been performed at the Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC), ESA’s Facility Responsible Centre for the Materials Science Laboratory. This meeting comprised operations, engineering, science, and agency representatives. The smooth and highly successful Material Science Laboratory experimentation has been highlighted and the scientists presented very promising preliminary scientific results stemming from analysis of the first samples. This constitutes an excellent basis for further materials research with international collaboration.

CETSOL and MICAST are two complementary material science projects, which carry out research into the formation of microstructures during the solidification of metallic alloys. 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. Results of these experiments will help to optimise industrial casting processes.

Portable Pulmonary Function System
On 22 July ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson successfully completed her fourth session of ESA’s Thermolab experiment in conjunction with NASA’s VO2Max experiment. Data was downloaded hereafter. ISS Flight Engineer undertook his second session of the experiments on 26 July. These sessions were supported by ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Thermolab uses the ESA-developed Portable Pulmonary Function System (combined with exercise) to investigate thermoregulatory and cardiovascular adaptations during rest and exercise in the course of long-term exposure to weightlessness. The Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) experiment is aimed at measuring oxygen uptake and cardiac output in particular, during various degrees of exercise.

The Portable Pulmonary Function System is an autonomous multi-user facility supporting a broad range of human physiological research experiments under weightless condition in the areas of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic physiology.

European science inside the Japanese Kibo Laboratory

ESA’s Matroshka payload, which has been located in the Japanese Kibo laboratory since 4 May, is continuously acquiring data about the radiation environment inside the ISS. The accumulated radiation levels are being measured using the passive radiation dosimeters (including PADLES type from JAXA) which were installed inside the Matroshka Phantom, which simulates a human body (head and torso). Following agreements with JAXA and Roscosmos, the joint long-duration experiment run will be performed until HTV-2 arrives in 2011. In the long-term Matroshka may again be accommodated on an external ISS platform to measure cosmic radiation levels in Low Earth Orbit which are of relevance for EVA activities.

European science inside the Russian ISS Segment

GTS-2 (Global Transmission Service)
The Global Transmission Service was deactivated on 31 May 2009 though negotiations with Russian representatives are ongoing for reactivation of the instrument and continuation of the so-called test mode. GTS will be tentatively a cooperative European-Russian experiment on ISS in the future. 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; measurement of disturbing effects such as Doppler shifts, multi-path reflections, shadowing and elevation impacts.

Additional European science outside the ISS in open space

The Expose-R facility, which was installed outside the Zvezda Service Module during the Russian-based spacewalk on 10 March 2009, is functioning well and acquiring scientific data in the two weeks until 30 July. A tentative return of the sample trays is foreseen for autumn 2010 which allows for a scientifically beneficial extension of the open space exposure period of 50%.

Expose-R hosts a suite of nine new astrobiology experiments (eight from ESA, one from IBMP, Moscow), some of which could help understand how life originated on Earth. This suite of experiments was transported to the International Space Station on Progress flight 31P, which docked with the ISS on 30 November 2008. The experiments are accommodated in three special sample trays, which are loaded with a variety of biological samples including plant seeds and spores of bacteria, fungi and ferns, which are exposed to the harsh space environment (Solar UV, cosmic radiation, vacuum), for about one and a half years.

The individual Expose-R experiments are as follows:


  • AMINO: Photochemical processing of amino acids and other organic compounds in Earth orbit
  • ENDO: Response of endolithic organisms to space conditions
  • OSMO: Exposure of osmophilic microbes to the space environment
  • SPORES: Spores in artificial meteorites
  • PHOTO: Measurements of vacuum and solar radiation-induced DNA damages within spores
  • SUBTIL: Mutational spectra of Bacillus subtilis spores and plasmid DNA exposed to high vacuum and solar UV radiation in the space environment.
  • PUR: Responses of Phage T7, Phage DNA and polycrystalline uracil to the space environment.
  • ORGANIC: Evolution of organic matter in space.
  • IMBP: Exposure of resting stages of terrestrial organisms to space conditions.

Expose-R complements the exobiology science package that was performed in Expose-E, a twin facility which had been in operation on ESA’s EuTEF facility outside of Columbus since February 2008 until EuTEF’s return to Earth with the STS-128/17A Shuttle Flight in September 2009.

Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory

Human Research Facility 1
ISS Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker each started another week-long session of NASA’s Sleep experiment on 26 July during which data was transferred to the Human Research Facility laptop from the Actiwatches they were wearing to monitor sleep patterns and light exposure levels.

ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker also completed her second Integrated Cardiovascular Ambulatory Monitoring session on 18 July. The NASA Integrated Cardiovascular Experiment consists of an a ultrasound Echo session and of an Ambulatory Monitoring session, which includes 24-hr blood pressure measurement using ESA’s Cardiopres device, 48-hr ECG measurement with a holter device and 48-hr activity measurements using two Actiwatches. She downloaded all device data to the facility laptop the following day. This was downlinked to ground on 21 July. The aim of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment is to determine the degree, development and clinical significance of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms. The Human Research Facility 1 activities were supported by ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

ISS general system information and activities *

Columbus laboratory and Columbus Control Centre

In addition to the Columbus experiment facilities mentioned above, the Columbus systems have been working well. Some regular maintenance activities have been executed by the crew and the Flight Control Team on top of the regular conferences of the ISS Crew with the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Activities in the European-built Node 3


  • 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 include:

    • Water Recovery System rack 2: Water Processor Assembly
      ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson replaced the two Multifiltration Beds of the Water Processor Assembly on 29 July after taking associated samples. This was due to a decrease in water purification performance, though quality remained within required limits.


    • Oxygen Generation System
      The Oxygen Generation System is again up and running following maintenance procedures carried out between 20 – 22 July. After Caldwell-Dyson performed two flushes of components of the recirculation loop, ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Shannon Walker replaced the failed Hydrogen Dome of the US Oxygen Generator Assembly. This was followed by ground-controlled venting and leak checks. The Oxygen Generator Assembly is the principal element which electrolyzes water into oxygen and hydrogen in the Oxygen Generation System.

ATV Arrival Preparations
On 21 July ISS Commander Alexander Skvortsov upgraded software for the ASN-M Satellite Navigation System in the Russian Service Module. This system is extremely important for the docking of ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the next one of which is due to be launched to the ISS at the end of the year.

Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for the ISS (MELFI)
Currently there are three European-built MELFI freezers on the ISS: MELFI 1 and MELFI 3 in the Japanese laboratory and MELFI 2 in the US laboratory. After ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock had mated MELFI 3 cabling on 22 July, Tracy-Caldwell-Dyson started a functional checkout of MELFI 3 on 28 July. This was successfully completed the following day.

Russian EVA 25


  • EVA Preparations
    In the week prior to Russian EVA 25, Roscosmos cosmonauts and ISS Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Fyodor Yurchikhin configured the Pirs Docking Compartment (and Airlock) and Service Module Transfer Compartment for the upcoming Russian spacewalk. This included the cosmonauts preparing spacewalk hardware; configuring and checking out communications equipment; adjusting, configuring and checking out the Russian Orlan EVA suits including hardware installation and checking out communications and medical systems; leak checking relevant equipment and interfaces; installing portable oxygen tanks and medical packs; performing oxygen and air system pressure checks; and recharging EVA suit batteries.


  • Progress 37P Undocking Preparations
    Also in preparation for the spacewalk, Progress 37P (docked at the Pirs Module’s Earth-facing docking port) was readied for undocking in the unlikely case of an EVA emergency. The Progress docking mechanism was again installed; the spacecraft was activated; ventilation ducting was removed; quick disconnect clamps were removed at the docking port; the hatches were closed; and an interhatch leak check was performed. ISS Commander Alexander Skvortsov reversed this process to re-integrate Progress 37P back into the ISS on 28 July.


  • EVA Dry Run
    A suited EVA dry run was carried out on 23 July. Ventilation ducting was removed from between the Pirs Docking Compartment (and Airlock) and Service Module Transfer Compartment. Communications systems were configured in the Docking Compartment, the Orlan suits and associated equipment were leak checked before the EVA cosmonauts donned their suits. Following further suits checks the suit pressure was dropped to 0.4 of an atmosphere before mobility testing inside the airlock was carried out.


  • EVA 25
    On completion of the standard pre-EVA procedures, Russian EVA 24 was carried out by Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Fyodor Yurchikhin on 27 July. The main purpose of the 6h 42min EVA, which started at 06:11 (CEST), was the outfitting of the Russian “Rassvet” Mini Research Module 1 on which major hardware spares for the European Robotic Arm are located including a spare elbow and limb sections. During the spacewalk the two cosmonauts: replaced a docking video camera on the Russian Service Module for the arrival of ESA’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which is scheduled to arrive at the end of the year (the old camera was jettisoned); laid and connected cabling for the automated Kurs docking system from the Rassvet Module to the Russian Zarya Module; as well as laying and connecting Ethernet cables to the Service Module. Once the EVA was complete the Service Module Transfer Compartment was repressurised, communications, ventilation and other systems were reconfigured back to the pre-EVA conditions and the cosmonauts carried out post-EVA medical procedures.

Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
On 20 July Mikhail Kornienko and Fyodor Yurchikhin carried out their first training session of the medical operation procedures using the VELO ergometer whilst wearing the 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 crewmembers will cope with exposure to gravity on return to Earth.

Orbital Debris
Orbital debris from a Chinese satellite was being monitored from the ground on 22 July though by the following day there was no need to plan any evasive action by the ISS or its crew.

Airlock activities
In the two weeks until 30 July, in preparation for the next EVA from the US segment of the ISS by Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson on 5 August, the two astronauts: resized their EVA suits; carried out a laptop refresher training session with the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue or SAFER units (propulsion units worn by the EVA astronauts in the unlikely case they become untethered from the ISS); inspected EVA tethers; recharged EVA batteries; scrubbed EVA suit cooling loops to remove particulate matter; readied EVA tools; and installed batteries, video cameras and helmet lights onto the EVA suits and checked them out.

New Air Quality Monitor
Following about 100 runs with the previous Air Quality Monitor, ISS Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Doug Wheelock carried out additional sessions with the new Air Quality Monitor in the two-week period until 30 July. This device is being used for identifying volatile organic compounds in the ISS cabin atmosphere. This new technology is being evaluated over a period of several months.

Crew Health Care System (CheCS)
In connection with the CHeCS system, in the two weeks until 30 July Skvortsov, Caldwell-Dyson, Kornienko and Walker all completed monthly sessions of the CHeCS emergency medical operations drill to refresh their medical skills, in addition to Wheelock inspecting the defibrillator in the CHeCS rack and all US astronauts taking part in a medical emergency drill.

Aurigae Eclipse Observation
This ISS is currently involved in an astronomical observation programme of the Epsilon Aurigae Eclipse, which occurs about every 27 years. The eclipse of the Epsilon Aurigae star, which is in the Constellation Auriga, lasts for nearly 2 years and indicates an enormous eclipsing object though the nature of this is still unknown. Ground observation mid eclipse is prevented due to the Sun’s proximity.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place in the two-week period until 30 July include: final outfitting of the Window Observation Research Facility (WORF) in the US Laboratory; installing a rigid ventilation duct between the Russian Rassvet and Zarya modules; installing a new centrifuge in the Cell Biology Experiment Facility in the Japanese Laboratory; and configuring the brackets for the adaptor of the Power and Data Grapple Fixture, which will be installed on the outside of the Russian Zarya module during the 5 August EVA.

(*)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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