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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 76, Increment 24

10/09/2010 261 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #76 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 and Japanese Kibo 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
A photo session of the Biolab Handle Mechanism was carried out on 31 August by ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson for evaluation by ground specialists. In preparation for future experiment activities, a microscope cassette was installed in Biolab. The activity could not be completed due to a time overrun though the facility is in a safe configuration until activities can continue.

Biolab is a multi-user 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 and the biological plant samples are still undergoing detailed analysis at the science team's laboratory.

Due to the still ongoing functional recovery activities 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 (requiring samples' download) will be the next experiment to take place and will 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
The PADIAC (PAthway DIfferent Activators) experiment will be uploaded on Soyuz flight 24S in October. PADIAC 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 European Drawer 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 during 3Ω months of successful experiment runs in 2009.

The Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (ERB-2) commissioning checkout was successfully completed by ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson on 10 September. After disconnecting it from the European Drawer Rack she installed batteries in the camera and made a brief test recording. 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 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 Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability (FASES) experiment is undergoing extensive science testing using the flight sample cells in the Engineering Model of the Fluid Science Laboratory at the MARS User Support and Operations Centre in Naples, Italy. This follows the demanifesting of FASES from the planned 39P Progress launch in September (due to the upgrade constraints of the Video Management Unit of the Fluid Science Laboratory). The flight of the Experiment Container will now be rescheduled for transportation to the ISS to a later Progress flight in 2011. 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.

The GeoFlow-2 experiment has been handed over to ATV team for stowage for the launch on ATV-2 at the end of 2010 and subsequent processing of an exhaustive scientific programme for a couple of months in the Fluid Science Laboratory.

European Physiology Modules and Experiments
No activities were carried out using the European Physiology Modules facility in the two weeks until 10 September. 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.

During the two weeks until 10 September ESA's Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment was completed with ISS Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker as test subjects. SOLO experiment is carrying out research into salt retention in space and related physiological effects. The two astronauts carried out two six-day dietary sessions, the first from 29 August ñ 3 September, the second from 5 ñ 10 September. In one of the sessions the astronaut has a low-salt diet, in the other session a higher-salt diet. On the fourth and sixth days of each dietary session, Wheelock and Walker undertook Body Mass Measurements using Human Research Facility 1. On the fifth day of each dietary session blood draws are taken which are hereafter centrifuged in Human Research facility 2 and started 24-hour urine collection. The blood and urine were placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers. During the first dietary session the blood draw for Wheelock was delayed by 24 hours.

The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment is progressing well during its time on orbit, with the instrument again acquiring data using one of the active DOSTEL detectors in the European Physiology Modules. The passive detectors for DOSIS, which were deinstalled and returned to earth on STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis, are currently 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)
The Vessel Identification System (commonly known as Automatic Identification System, AIS) 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 10 September. 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
No activities have taken place in the European Modular Cultivation System in the two weeks until 10 September. The culture chambers for Genara-A are currently located in the European-built MELFI-2 freezer until their return by Shuttle on ULF-5. 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.

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
On 7 September equipment for the SODI-Colloid experiment was gathered together by ISS Flight Engineer Doug Wheelock on orbit. The avionics hardware for ESA's triple SODI (Selectable Optical Diagnostics Instrument) experiments, and the Colloid experiment cells were launched on Progress flight 39P on 10 September for continuation of the experiment series. The first SODI experiment performed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox was IVIDIL (Influence of Vibrations on Diffusion in Liquids), which was successfully completed on 20 January.

The upcoming Colloid experiment covers the study on growth and properties of advanced photonic materials within colloidal solutions. The focus is on materials that have a special interest in photonics, with emphasis on nano-structured, periodic dielectric materials, known as photonic crystals, which possess appealing properties and make them promising candidates for new types of optical components.

The subsequent DSC experiment (ëDiffusion 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 Columbus Control Centre supported activities inside the ESA-built Microgravity Science Glovebox on 30 August and from 7 ñ 10 September. Sessions of NASA's Smoke and Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME) experiment were carried out by ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker including swapping out of samples. 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 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 10 September. 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 near future 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

SOLAR A new Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to gather scientific data opened on 3 September. 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 31 August a third session of ESA's Thermolab experiment in conjunction with the NASA's Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) was carried out by ISS Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock. A sixth and final session was carried out by Tracy-Caldwell-Dyson on 9 September. 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 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 continuously acquiring scientific data. A tentative return of the sample trays is foreseen for November 2010 which allows for a scientifically beneficial extension of more than 1.5 years for the open space exposure period.

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
During the two-week period until 10 September activities were carried out using NASA's Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESA's Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Human Research Facility 1 was activated on 1, 3 and 8 and 10 September in order to carry out SLAMMD Body Mass Measurements in connection with ESA's SOLO experiment.

ISS Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker each started another week-long session of NASA's Sleep experiment on 6 September 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 third Integrated Cardiovascular Ambulatory Monitoring session on 29 August. 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 on 8 September. 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.

Human Research Facility 2
On 2, 3 and 9 September blood draw activities for ESA SOLO experiment were carried out. Samples were spun in the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research facility 2 before being placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers. Similar activities for the Canadian Space Agency's Vascular experiment were undertaken on 8 September. Activities were supported by the Columbus Control Centre.

ISS general system information and activities *

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


  • Power Loads Audit
    ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov carried out an audit of the power loads at different power outlet panels in Columbus on 30 August as well as in the European-built Nodes 2 and 3 and in the Japanese Kibo laboratoty.


  • Internal Thermal Control System
    On 1 September the Fluid Servicing System was connected to the Internal Thermal Control System in Columbus by NASA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker before adding coolant (water) to the system. Similar activities were undertaken in the US laboratory the day before.


  • Water On-Off Valve
    On 3 September NASA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker tilted EXPRESS Rack 3 forward before attempting to loosen a stuck water on-off valve. The rack was replaced afterwards.

Activities in the European-built Node 3

  • Exercise Equipment
    In addition to regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) and T2 COLBERT Treadmill, ISS Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker carried out minor maintenance to prevent ARED's cable arms from popping out due to a pulley rope preventing full retraction. Loose tufts were cut from the rope on 8 September followed by a check out on 10 September.


  • 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: Urine Processor Assembly
      The Recycle Filter Tank Assembly which filters pre-treated urine for processing into water was again replaced on 31 August by Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and on 9 September by Shannon Walker.


    • Atmosphere Revitalisation Racks
      The Atmosphere Revitalisation Racks were swapped on 7 September to their permanent locations by NASA astronauts and ISS Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Doug Wheelock. Atmpsphere Revitalisation Rack 1 was moved from Node 3 into the US Laboratory and Atmosphere Revitalisation Rack 2 was moved into Node 3.

Minus-Eighty degree 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. Samples were placed in the MELFI freezers related to ESA's Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment (blood, urine), JAXA's MYCO (Mycological Evaluation of Crew Exposure to ISS Ambient Air) experiment (body samples), and the Canadian Space Agency's Vascular experiment (blood). Progress Logistics Spacecraft Activities

  • Progress M-06M/38P Undocking
    • Undocking Preparations
      On 30 August Mikhail Kornienko prepared the Progress 38P spacecraft for departure. The Progress docking mechanism was again installed; temperature sensor equipment and light fixtures were removed from Progress for reuse; Progress electronics were activated; ventilation ducting was removed as were the quick disconnect clamps which stabilize the connection between Progress 38P and the aft docking port of the Russian Service Module. The Progress/Service Module hatches were closed at 17:30 CEST followed by the standard one-hour leak check of the interhatch area and the interface between the fuel/oxidizer transfer line.


    • Progress 38P Undocking/Deorbit
      On 31 August Progress M-06M/38P successfully undocked from the aft port of the Russian Service Module at 13:21 (CEST). Following several days in orbit after undocking, the Progress logistics planned destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean on 6 September.
  • Progress M-05M/37P Activities
    Alexander Skvortsov set up pumping equipment on 2 September and started the standard bladder compression and leak check of a Progress 37P water tank in preparation for urine transfer. On 6 September, Service Module control of 37P thrusters was restored. Thrusters of Progress 37P (docked at the Earth-facing port of the Pirs Docking Module) are the most efficient for ISS roll control.


  • Progress M-07M/39P Activities
    • TORU Manual Docking System Training On 7 September ISS Commander Alexander Skvortsov and ISS Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko carried out a training session on the Russian TORU system in preparation for Progress 39P docking. The TORU system acts as a manual backup to the Kurs automated rendezvous and docking system. The session included, rendezvous, fly-around, final approach, docking and off-nominal situations such as video or communications loss.
    • Progress M-07M/39P Launch
      The Progress M-07M spacecraft on ISS logistics flight 39P was successfully launched into orbit by a Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:22 CEST (16:22 local time) on 10 September. The Progress spacecraft was transporting about 2.3 tonnes of vital supplies to the ISS including water, food, gases, propellants, consumables and scientific equipment, which included the associated equipment for ESA's SODI-Colloid experiment. The launch was delayed from the original launch date of 8 September due to high winds at the launch site.

Japanese Laboratory Fluid Physics Experiment Facility / Marangoni Inside Payload On separate occasions between 31 August and 10 September, troubleshooting on JAXA's Marangoni Inside payload was undertaken. With the incorrect cassette installed inside the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility major preparation and cleaning was undertaken prior to exchanging the cassette, which was due to take place on 11 September.

Mobile Transporter Relocation
The Mobile Transporter, situated on the Station's truss was ground-commanded to move along the truss rails from Work Site 2 to Work Site 4 on 1 September.

Tracy-Caldwell Dyson set up a GLACIER (General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator) freezer on 1 September for installation in an EXPRESS Rack in the US Laboratory. Hereafter she installed a desiccant canister in the freezer for drying it out. This was replaced with a new canister the following day to continue the drying-out process. GLACIER freezers can store samples as low as -185 degrees C. On 9 September desiccant packs were removed from the freezer to allow cooling of the unit by ground commanding to -95 degC, in preparation for sample transfer.

Fluid Integrated Rack
Hyperextension tests were carried out on the Active Rack Isolation System pushrod/actuators of the Fluid Integrated Rack on 1, 2 and 3 September. The actuators with pushrods are used for applying compensatory forces against the framework of the station in the case of disturbances vibrations, to reduce vibrational influence on experiments in the Fluid Integrated Rack

Expedition Crew Return Preparations


  • Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
    On 7, 8 September Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko carried out a s session of the medical operation procedures using the TVIS treadmill whilst wearing the Russian ëChibis' 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.


  • Soyuz-TMA seat fit-check
    On 8 September, members of the ISS Crew (Skvortsov, Kornienko and Caldwell-Dyson) donned their Sokol spacesuits and carried out a fit-check of the Kazbek shock absorbing seats in the Descent Module of the Soyuz TMA-18 crew return vehicle in preparation for their return on 24 September.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place in the two-week period until 10 September include: the Russian TVIS treadmill cleared for use following the maintenance activities on 26/27 August and a functional checkout of JAXA's Clean Bench Operation Chamber.

(*)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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